Text written by Mat Jenner for End Cottage exhibition at Taco!, London, 2020.
End Cottage is where Alex Crocker lives. His daily walks, his domestic routines and
family life are recorded in simple drawn images made at the kitchen table. Birds,
bricks, worms, cars, bikes, trees, flowers, cats, cups, flies, people, clouds, grass,
windows, bees. The stuff of the world Alex transcribes daily and repeatedly on
paper. Drawn, recognisable objects transform and sit on the cusp of weird
abstraction. Once an object is fully absorbed it becomes a motif for painting. An essence of the
world distilled into a perfume- a note of bird, a whiff of tree, an accord of cat and
dog, concentrated cloudy cloudness of cloud! These images reflect less the world as
we know it and more a mirror world. It feels self contained - somebody’s personal
language we vaguely understand. There’s a conversation with things in the world
going on here. A rumination in paint and canvas. Objects figuring themselves out.
Alex understands the stuff that is ‘paint’. It’s a material that has its own agency, that
doesn’t behave. The paint does the painting- not Alex! He aims to let it. He helps it
along of course, gives it a hand. But to give up control and let the painting ‘become’
he paints wet on wet, places the canvas on the floor, cuts it up, turns it around,
paints on odd materials, works quickly, chooses odd dimensions of stretchers,
struggles with cumbersome sizes. It’s a battle of sorts. These paintings have a life of
their own. They are something untamed and outside of Alex. Automatic wild things!
Alex avoids judgement of them. It’s not his place to judge something else. Sometimes
the paintings work, sometimes they don’t. Paintings hang around in the studio like
characters in a play. They get reworked, take on new appearances, become quiet and
withdrawn, or gain vitality and presence. Perhaps these paintings are never finished
changing? Alex selects some for exhibition. Here come the players! He installs them
and arranges their composition. In a gallery the paintings might appear complete.
But it’s only one brief moment in the process of paint becoming. Of ‘it’ being a
Alex’s paintings, if they could be said to belong to him at all, are ambiguous and full
of tension. Sometimes they’re friendly and gentle. Sometimes they’re menacing and
uncomfortable. They look familiar yet feel alien. They’re uncanny. They are made
‘by’ Alex, but not controlled by him. Like the world from which they’ve come from,
they don’t always make sense though they can speak to us about our place in it.