Scott Young excavates images, materials and motifs from a variety of sources, spanning from art history to design and fashion. His deceptive paintings sit comfortably between image and object, the domestic and the industrial, the decorative and the pragmatic. Borrowing techniques from 19th-century still-life painting, his works contain resonances of past image worlds while simultaneously creating new constellations, to propose a painterly vocabulary strongly informed by our (post-)digital condition.
The title of the show derives from Scott’s interest in mid-century interior aesthetics and storage solutions. Aligning modernist design promises with the idea of painting as an alleged storage “solution”, the exhibition poses questions around the medium’s relevance in today’s climate and the infrastructures from which it arises.
Scott’s fascination with George Nelson’s storagewall, a modular storage unit crafted to store “new media’’ in 1950s households, stems from the interior designer’s pragmatic design philosophy, partially influenced by his interest in early computing. In light of the burgeoning information age, the storagewall reimagined the domestic as a ‘data space’ (Lynn Spigel). Inspired by Nelson’s approach and against the backdrop of our data-driven image worlds, Scott combines “old” and “new” media to explore the domestication of technology through storage solutions.
Containing something for future use not only underpins his series of works but also their context of creation: 56 Conduit Street. For the artist, the building itself doubles up as a storage device – a container whose history and aesthetic features inform and frame the motifs of his works. In 1844, the military ornament maker Jennens & Co. opened their business here, and a century later, it served as flagship store to the clothing brand Alexon. Scott alludes to this historical constellation with deceivingly realistic details of blouses, military buttons, buckles, bows, skirts and other company stock sourced from eBay. The artist borrows from the iconic marble and wood paneling installed throughout the 56 Conduit Street building, which operate as framing devices to the motifs. Wheels, hinges and other hardware let his works sprawl beyond their frames, suspending them between image and object, sculpture and painting. A burning shoe, a seductive gas tank, and a life jacket subtly negotiate a painterly space between (still) life and death. They refer to an episode from Scott’s family history, the tragic passing of his great-great-great grandfather, a miner in Butte (Montana), who died in a shaft explosion on New Year’s Day in 1904.
Scott’s exploration of the sculptural qualities of painting continues on the second floor. Using William Pahlmann’s electric design principles as the departure point, the immersive walkable tableau lets the viewer travel back in time. Framed by contrasting wallpapers, a carpet and curtain, Scott’s paintings mix Alexon’s 80s clothing and mid-century cabinets with elements and textures from the building’s history. The immersiveness of his installation is paralleled with our experience navigating an increasingly frameless digital reality. Scott’s paintings negotiate their condition in this realm, reaching beyond themselves. They become containers of memories, miners of histories and markers of time. His works interrogate the elements they contain, the materialities they bring to the fore and the narratives they store.
Scott Young (b. Seattle, US) is interested in the strange and uncanny relationships we project on objects and images. His paintings are a contemporary re-envisioning of still life and vanitas paintings, where objects and motifs with contentious social significance are carefully placed into coded dialogues. His work often employs imitation marble or wood painting techniques, alluding to artificialities in our extractive relationship between nature and culture.
During his undergraduate studies in Philosophy & Aesthetics from The Evergreen State College he played in punk bands and participated in community organizing. He later moved to New York to pursue a more formal investigation into fine art. He graduated from the MFA program at Goldsmiths University of London in Summer of 2022. In 2020 he took a hiatus from Goldsmiths for 6 months to study traditional decorative wood and marble painting techniques at Van der Kelen Logelain in Brussels. Past Exhibitions include: The Artist Room (London); Florence Trust (London); Art Exchange Gallery at University of Essex, Des Baines (London), and Christie’s.
Download the exhibition text here.