Simon Pike: ‘Algo-Pop’ at Unit 3 Projects, London

October 19, 2021

Simon Pike, ‘Render’ (2020-21), acrylic and medium on canvas, 60 x 97cm


Simon Pike uses intricately-cut stencils to layer complex imagery and text on to his paintings, conjuring gridded formats that mimic the ‘weave’ of digital imagery.


Previous paintings spliced the design vocabulary of the new breed of cinematic sci-fi blockbuster (‘Prometheus’ and the like) with the sinuous line of Art Nouveau, building up complex webs of striated paint to create densely tactile surfaces; but here, the works in ‘Algo-Pop’ are sites for rich, sensuous pourings and stainings of glossy, translucent, high-keyed colour, delivered with a confident fluidity of touch that acts as counterpoint to the complex layering of internet-derived, stencilled imagery.

Simon Pike, ‘Zip Static’ (2021), acrylic and medium on plywood panel, 45.6 x 60.9cm


Instantloveland couldn’t help but think back to the first ‘Blade Runner’ movie: not the cityscapes for which the film is rightly famous, mind, but rather, for the sequences filmed in Harrison Ford’s apartment, a cluttered, shadowy space humming with gadgetry, lit by a thousand tiny electronic illuminations, criss-crossed by slots and slats of light, in which we are never really permitted to get our bearings. Here, we watch Ford ‘deconstruct’ a seemingly innocuous photograph of a domestic interior, with the help of a device that subjects the image to forensic visual analysis, zooming in closer and closer on it until a mirror in its corner yields its secrets.


Pike’s work, in its fashion, also seems to play with this ‘blowing up’, this expanding of imagery, leading us to the very heart of the process of making, inviting the viewer to ‘play detective’ with the painting. And who knows? One might then notice, say, the outline of an iconic piece of gestural abstraction- think of Motherwell here- being dissected by strong, horizontal, slat-like sequences of high-contrast colour that evoke the graphic design of the 1980s and 1990s…or are they the Venetian blinds of 1940s ‘film noir’? or of ‘Alphaville’, Godard’s 1960s homage to the genre? What decade are we in here? Or is it all of them? Or none? Pike is giving nothing away…

Simon Pike, ‘Puppet Warp’ (2021), acrylic and medium on plywood panel, 40 x 50cm


‘Algo-Pop’ is at Unit 3 Project Space, London, E3 3LT, until October 23rd by appointment: 07787504301