Overlay installation view. Image courtesy Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery.

The Neoclassical surroundings of Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery provide a quiet and contemplative setting for Daniel Goodwin’s, Overlay. The ground floor gallery, who’s entrance is flanked by marble columns, features sixteen recent works that explore the nature of screens and our perception of images. This is achieved through painting and printmaking in an unabashed experimentation with unconventional composition and mark making.

All the works are modest in size, perhaps echoing the screens that Goodwin’s source images are taken from. The dimensions and presentation of ‘Contact sheet (2)’ (2017) directly references the work’s source, and the scale of ‘0:39:27/1:24:18’ (2017) and ‘“Take me back to Manchester when it’s raining, I want to wet my feet in Albert Square”’ (2018) echo the mobile phone and laptop screen. Photographs and stills viewed on screens form the starting point for all of Goodwin’s compositions. By plucking images from film and television out of their original context, Goodwin shows us how the presence of the screen and the linear story affects what we see, and what is left behind when they are removed. The works’ titles often give the only obscure reference as to their origin.

Additionally, in his busier compositions such as ‘Cal7.png’ (2017), the size of the works contribute to the animosity of their constituent elements. The lack of space forces the different elements to interact with one another, colliding and competing for attention. This conjures up the feeling that if the confines of the composition were suddenly widened, the elements would fly off in different directions, expanding until they once again became unrelated. Goodwin often piles different elements together until everything almost breaks down, and then holds the composition at a tipping point. This internal tension that brings a sense of dynamism to individual works serves as a metaphor for the whole exhibition. The viewer and the artist make a similar journey through each piece, pulling disparate elements together in eager anticipation of what might happen when one clashes with another. An example being works such as ‘IMG_4019.JPG’ (2017) and ‘IMG_4020.JPG’ (2017) that seem overly aesthetic in isolation, but make sense in the context of Overlay. They represent one direction of the artists thinking amongst many.

The figurative elements in Goodwin’s work often facilitate unexpected collisions and combinations, and this takes place in the gesture. Marks are made by scratching, tearing, and wiping that ensures the materiality of the medium is always prominent. Goodwin appears to state these are not images viewed through a canvas as images are viewed through a screen, these are paintings, constructed of mark and gesture, and it is the viewer that perceives an image. In many of the works, an unexpected interaction of elements forms a focal point of interest that draws you in, and you can feel that for Goodwin this is what it is all about. This might be the fall of a cloak faintly mirrored in ‘9,665’ (2018), or a torn shape intruding on a figure in ‘R.Sharpe’ (2018).

However, if the semi-accidental gesture and mark are paramount to all, then why do these works require a framework of recognisable elements? Perhaps it is because making the gesture centre stage would spoil its incidental nature. With the framework of a scene to move around, the gesture is always on the periphery, where anything can happen. This requires the viewer to move around the composition in search of the little moments of interaction, and makes viewing these works feel like searching for something hidden. This in turn mirrors the voyeuristic act of the artist in trawling through social media, film, and television for the source images that begin this whole process.

Overlay suggests a way to view images that isn’t mediated by the television or film screen and is therefore less linear, yet it utilises the conventions of the screen to do so. It is a restless and stimulating collection of work that clearly demonstrates Goodwin’s fascination with our perception of images.

James Mathews-Hiskett is an artist and writer based in Manchester.

Overlay, Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery, Stockport.

13 April – 4 May 2019.

Published 28.06.2019 by James Schofield in Reviews

680 words