Andy Wicks

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Andy Wicks’ paintings depict objects that might initially appear otherworldly or imagined, but are in fact real structures for mooring boats that can be seen – should you look – dotted along the River Thames. Existing some place in the no-man’s land between improvisation and ordinary functionality, they appear alternately too decrepit for use, or else modern, robust and sturdy. These mooring stations are called ‘dolphins’, an appellation that seems arbitrary given their utter lack of physical resemblance to the marine creature. Also seemingly arbitrary is their ad hoc composition and materiality: they can be built out of anything from pressure-treated pine to hardwood, reinforced concrete, or steel girders and tubes. Here, form follows function – but there is also a unity to their robust armature and tide-washed weathering, rusty iron, and agglutinated patches of algae fronds. Wicks’ paintings have a striking figure-ground contrast: the backgrounds are often rendered with a muddy-watery effect created by mixing resins, thinned oil paints and other thinners, which the artist irritates into eddies of bare canvas and coagulated paint – a process that echoes the flow of the river itself.

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