Ratcheting up the weirdness is Wisconsin-born artist Mathew Cerletty, whose paintings and drawings veer from the very unsettling to wilfully deadpan and droll.
Originally concentrating on realist portraits of friends, family and himself, Cerletty now often paints simple, koan-like ‘lifestyle’ sayings and brand logos, bringing to mind a leisure-class take on the work of Ed Ruscha and On Kawara. He has also been painting wallpaper and terrazzo patterns, a kitsch and perverse choice of subject matter. Who would choose to hang a painting of wallpaper on their wall?
His portraits are his most unsettling work; he places himself in awkward or unhappy situations, or paints himself as someone else, again in strange situations. Wishing I Had A Twin Sister from 2002 is particularly disconcerting – Cerletty draws a female version of himself, topless and forlorn, showing a sibling in a state most brothers would hope never to see. Last Chance Dance sees the artist sat wistfully alone at some unknown social event, experiencing that dreaded feeling of being left on your own as the party whirls around you.
He is undoubtedly a talented draftsman, as his ability to replicate brand logos or the pencil drawings of modernist buildings like Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Fallingwater show. But his most intriguing work remains the paintings such as N and St John, which hint at another style entirely. These are more ambiguous and allusive and painted in a looser style where gestures and shape suggesting various interpretations of the image, or a letter with eyes becoming a strange typographic entity.