Derek Mainella: Comfort Zone
For his third exhibition with Castor, Derek Mainella reclassifies the gallery as an emotionally safe environment; a hypothetical coping space for sufferers of so-called ‘first world problems’: the perils of a population accustomed to a life of indulgence and comfort. Dark walls and a padded floor aid the visitor’s relaxation, whilst the on-hand gallerist might help with certain basic stress reliefs such as phone charging, directions, etc. Mainella employs his familiar motif of abstract paintings of faces, but here the figures emerge rendered from various ecstasy pills and other recreational drugs, accompanied by text. The text in each work points to a basic theme, or reveals various states of wellness or psychosis brought about by such stimulants. The pills themselves, which formally reference his earlier works (specifically cartoon-like eyes and tongues in the shape of pills), provide the simple metaphor for escapism, but also the idea that ‘first world problems’ are often self-induced / administered.
These problems are not usually due to basic concerns like food and shelter, but evolve from a myriad of complexities specific to modern society that are placing a strain on our resilience as human beings. The resulting threat demands new levels of escapism where the excesses of both stress and leisure now have the potential to unhinge and damage. Whilst what is suggested here is nothing new, it is so intensely magnified by the pressures of an increasingly nuanced society, and the addiction to social media, that it is almost impossible to hide from. While methods of personal and commercial stimulation continue to advance. The logos on the pills themselves allude to an intensely widespread underground economy and the omnipotence of corporate and commercial entities. These emblems whilst aspirational, comprise a language that speaks loudly of monetary pressures and desires which exacerbate the need to escape. Comfort Zone offers a space where one can commune with fellow ‘sufferers’ for a momentary respite from the growing noise outside.