‘I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast.’
‘...you eat pieces of shit for breakfast?’
It’s an appropriate quote (from cultural milestone ‘Happy Gilmore’) for this show of new paintings by young English artist Olivia Sterling, because every work here is about devouring men. Specifically, white ones.
In the first big canvas you see, a grotesquely fleshy nude male corpse is being sliced into and pawed at by a whirl of hungry hands. Forks and knives plunge in, feet and legs are severed, the crotch is served up on a plate. Don’t worry though, the man is made of pure Victoria sponge. It’s all cake.
In one work, a naked white man runs from grabbing black hands, in another his legs lie prone on the ground as faceless figures around his corpse knock back booze. There’s the deep red of blood in loads of these paintings, being sloshed about in cups or scooped from jars, but it’s all wine or jam or deliciously ripe tomatoes.
Sterling’s gory works of cartoony cannibalism are brilliant. She’s making up for millennia of male violence by turning the archetypal white man into a victim, a trophy to be hunted. She’s claiming gleeful, gluttonous dominance over him as a symbol. And all the political, racial points are being made with wild, giggling, humour.
These are vicious, maniacal, hilarious, gore-drenched paintings by a young artist who just keeps getting better. But if she ever invites you over for dinner, run.