Gerald Collings is a romantic. He paints in a warm body-colored fascination. The colors are of slow dying. Depicting the underside of desire, of internal, of meat. The paint is boiling, drooling with layers dripping into each other. Meeting and holding against a slippery form. They are curious, erotic, and bleak.
But the mood is sympathetic, revealing something sensuous and hidden. Only possible to see when all traces of the traditional sexual mask are scraped bare. Maybe this is truth. Coming from somewhere ancient inside the painter, and inside us all. An alternate freedom tied to our earliest existence within the hole.
It would be natural to push these paintings towards death, but they go the other way. Towards life and its endless slow rot. Collings knows his rot well, and knows how to extract the allure and the confusion of being attracted to something so raw. His paint is gentle. The force behind it is not anger or aggression, but soothing in the sense that nature holds its own wonder. Not as a representation or a symbolic gesture, but as its own fleshy self.
These are true egalitarian portraits. Abscesses, pustules, oozing not in disgust, but with a conspiratorial grin as if to say, hey man don’t worry, I look just like this too.
When you view them, with the right amount of eye, you can see these paintings walking down the street, laughing, bleeding just beneath their skin. They grab you. Leave a puddle. Wonder what you taste like. They are mirrors with the skin torn off. They look just like you.
- Michael Spielman