Swathes of translucent organza and chiffon fabric appear scrunched, draped and stretched over industrial aluminium frames, swirling with abstracted lines of text rendered in black and white with vibrant pops of colour. These works are part of American artist and former fashion designer Preston Douglas’ ongoing series CTHRUME inwhich he employs painterly gestures, digital techniques and textiles to create bold, sculptural compositions. The artist’s first UK solo exhibition at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London Bridge -also entitled CTHRUME - takes the form of a multi-sensory experience in which viewers are invited to actively engage and contemplate their relationship to both objects and imagery.
For Preston, the artistic process begins with the collection of ephemeral materials including corporate logos, album covers, slogans, and digital imagery, or as he puts it, ‘things I love, and things I hate.’ These materials are then printed out and moved by hand across a scanner bed to create glitch-like distortions, which are further manipulated on Photoshop. However, Preston is keen to note that while he employs digital tools, his physical engagement with the work remains crucial throughout the process. He uses an iPad rather than a desktop computer to allow him to move the imagery around the screen with his fingers before printing the final work onto his chosen fabric, and refers to the printed marks as ‘contemporary brushstrokes’ in the sense that technology is both an artistic medium as well as a universal form of expression. The materials are then arranged either on paper or on a stretcher to create varying effects. In Born From Pain, for example, black and white dyed organza erupts out from the paper, extending its edges and creating a sense of depth, while Creeping Death comprises pieces of organza, satin and chiffon stitched together and stretched over an aluminium frame. The latter work, especially, conveys a sense of violence; there’s hole in the top left corner almost as if the surface has been attacked, leaving a strip of fabric hanging limply in space while the areas of deep purple and red evoke the appearance of bruising.