Both caricature and post-apocalyptic satire, recent drawings by Jack Coughlin depict a ruined landscape, somewhere between junkyard and demolition zone. In this place, all sense of logic and systematic culture is forsaken. Here we cannot discern between junk and value, waste and commodity, or the scattered and the collected. Borders between human and animal are breached as a flasher-overcoated fish man holds a frog on a leash. Hierarchies of sea and air dissolve as alligator-snouted dogs are beached at their owners’ feet and torpedo-bodied fish flutter about overhead.

Men stride through junkyards and urban wastelands carrying fish under their arms like machine guns in violin cases.  Some they present to strangely cheerful women. Have these fish grown so large from swimming in the toxic run-off of this ruined place? Why do the men carry them? Some men have bigger fishes than others.  Some ride their fish through the sky.  A memorial to a man with a fish (was he the first?) is admired by a small crowd. The fish men have red noses, irritated by the sun, drink, or the smell of the fish.

At the feet of these men are their disaffected and scrofulous pets who snarl, cough up fur balls and scratch fleas. Red-nosed trash men without fish look longingly into the distance.  Several pick up instruments and play the blues.

Everyday logic shatters as do distinctions between states of work or leisure. With dysfunctional, almost giddy cheer, all conventions are abandoned that might separate the large and small; the clothed and naked; the domesticated, feral and wild.

In this series of drawings by Jack Coughlin, the wastelands of Samuel Beckett, the apocalyptic carnival of Hieronymus Bosch and the cartoons of George Booth come together in a playful synthesis of dreams and mischief.

SKYFISH is the latest limited edition book that collects this body of important new work.  For sale at the Golden Cod.

 

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