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Zoë Mendelson's P's and Q's is the inaugural exhibition at Rokeby, a new independent commercial gallery for contemporary art.
Zoë Mendelson creates an initially seductive world. Her drawings, paintings and painted installations entice the viewer into an elaborate fantasy through intricately rendered imagery and embellishment.
Drawn into the artist's world, one delights in realising that the idealised innocence and gentility act as a cover for erotic excess and the work exposes itself as being politely and furtively soiled. Overlapping opulent historical settings with Vegas-style signage and low-budget erotica, Mendelson deals with obsession and fantasy; often concealing pornographic imagery behind elaborate symbolic constructions, which, in turn can be found secreted within customised antique or museum furniture.
Zoë Mendelson's inconclusive narratives are overflowing with lavish and elegantly rendered details; luscious flora and fauna sit within theatrical architectural settings. Playing in this sumptuous, yet corrupted, period drama are female characters that remain hollowed out pencil drawings. The girls' poses and expressions, drawn from the mechanical repertoire of adult entertainment, suggest a less than polite life devoid of any substance. Their emptiness allows a fantastical internal world to leak out. Where two incompatible cultures meet, these girls act as a vehicle for good-mannered femininity collapsing around them. The ultra-polite rubs shoulders with the decidedly lewd.
The artist uses drawing to communicate obsession, but the process in which she works enters into the compulsive; continually re-drawing elements until satisfied that the drawings appear flawless. With its conflicting roots in children's book illustration, botanical and erotic drawing, this unsullied line becomes a method of containing furtive imaginings. Often you will catch a glimpse of an element repeated in paintings and installations; recurring, as in dreams.