There are some trends that will forever reek of their decade: perms, plastic covered furniture, microwave TV dinners and acid washed jeans. Once they are over, they are over- embarrassing reminders of a life they promised and the desires we had. In his solo-exhibition Philanthropy, Dan Rees re-introduces Artex, the home decoration technique that people could not get enough of in the UK during the 1970s. Notoriously difficult to remove, Artex ceilings were the first thing to go as the middle classes bought up the homes of the working class. Applying the Artex technique to an oil painting, Rees uses the commercial gallery as a vehicle to coax this aesthetic back into the homes of those who rejected it.
Indulging in seductive surfaces, the Plasticine paintings in each gallery use a most basic material to create a plane of abstract colours. At first appearing flat, a closer look reveals a thick material marked with the impressions of thousands of fingerprints- a primitive method with an imposing result.
Like a set of practical jokes on the collector, the wall connecting the two galleries presents a series of missing canvases. Their absence is obvious, marked by gaps in a line of spray paint applied directly to the wall. In their place, Rees has inserted photographs of the blue plaques which mark buildings in and around London which used to be the homes of notable figures. Each of the plaques Rees has selected commemorate the residence of famous philanthropists. Another trend from the past re-introduced in the gallery, the philanthropist’s appearance in the exhibition acts as an awkward reminder of times when artists relied on the generosity of others; a notion that in recent years feels uncomfortably relevant.