JPS Gallery is pleased to present Not At The Dinner Table, Paul Hunter Speagle’s first solo exhibition at the gallery’s Tokyo location. Born and raised in North Carolina, USA, Speagle creates a new series of paintings that offers an intimate look into domestic households that have been saturated with the excessive media reports about global issues. By pinpointing how unlimited access to an endless stream of news compromises human connection, communication, family values and relationships, Speagle offers new insight into matters that viewers may have overlooked or have become emotionally desensitised to.
Speagle grew up in a household where the phrase “not at the dinner table” was said whenever topics such as politics, religion and sex were brought up as it was considered inappropriate for conversations at family dinners. He believes that “the root starts with our family”, therefore, his brilliantly coloured exuberant paintings are meant to raise awareness amongst viewers in the hopes of generating a dialogue leading to positive change. With that in mind, Speagle’s works are a visual testimony of how issues such as global warming, cancel culture, transgender rights or the struggle of small businesses, to name a few, have arisen over the recent years due to the lack of in-depth communication concerning these topics.
From pop culture references to historical or religious iconography, Speagle plays on the familiarities of collective consciousness and re-mixes decade-old references to create paintings with complex narratives. The familiarity of the subjects and motifs within the paintings is intentional, allowing the paintings to inform themselves and invite a literal interpretation or a symbolic one. In Back To The Past, Speagle uses the classic USA Hollywood movie Back to the Future to express the significant setback in the fight for women’s rights due to the rise of the conservative agenda. Standing in line to get in the time machine that is a DeLorean car are stereotypically dressed women from America’s eras in the past 100 years. Whilst I’m in some shit now, Speagle addresses his personal experience with the media by comparing it to a dominatrix relationship where fear is the form of manipulation used to control us.
Propelled by his strong desire for a better future and willingness to bring helpful solutions to the problems we all face, the presented works convey complex issues with extraordinary emotion and immediacy. The small scale of the paintings offers viewers an intimate experience, forcing them to look closer in order to examine the content of each painting, reiterating the need to look closely at larger issues we face daily. Speagle’s thick painterly technique allows a unique optical illusion and physical textural quality that transforms metaphorical concepts into real tangible experiences. Speagle shares, “The juxtaposition of bright colours with dark imagery express the reality of life and the world that we live in is truly Brutal and Beautiful.”
Although the individual works present complete stories in and of themselves, when viewed together a larger narrative emerges, one that encourages viewers to first solve the problems within their homes so it can create a ripple effect of positivity throughout the world.