Enduring Freedom is a major new solo exhibition by celebrated British artist, Mitch Griffiths. Opening to the public on 13th November at Halcyon Gallery, the body of work, which will be unveiled to an invited audience on Remembrance Day, alludes to a sense of disillusionment and abandon typical of many post-war twentieth-century paintings. Enduring Freedom’s majestic triptych: First Person Shooter draws upon the titles of the popular video-game franchise Call of Duty, referencing the series across three 150 x 120cm paintings: Finest Hour, Call of Duty and Modern Warfare.
Call of Duty, which depicts a soldier - oil dripping from his hands - references the words of WW1 veteran and poet Wilfred Owen. The words emblazoned in the tattoo across the soldier’s chest quote the words: Dulce et Decorum Est, from Owen’s famous poem which denounced the glorification of war and exposed the true horrors seen by those on the ground.
Preferring not to comment explicitly on any one interpretation of his work, Griffiths offers multiple readings and an opportunity both to identify with, and question the iconography which permeates his art. Unlike the work of Nash, Nevinson, Dix or Bacon, Griffiths’ paintings do not attempt to convey the visceral terror of mortal combat in sharp discordant angles, contrasting tones and expressive brush work. Instead, more akin to devotional painting of a seventeenth-century Papist Italy, the true strength and efficacy of these paintings lies in their understatement and reservation.
Griffiths’ subjects glow softly at the edge of the picture plane, with such carefully observed and surprising detail that the viewer is compelled into contemplation. Through the theatrics of his compositions, Griffiths achieves a sense of twenty-first century history painting, dripping in symbolism, iconography and ancient mythological reference.
“This series looks at ideas I have been having regarding the triumph of the human spirit set in contrast to the more tangible authority held by various institutional or governmental structures of human society. The struggle for power can be found in the everyday rat-race or in the upper echelons of global politics.” - Mitch Griffiths