Nick Hackworth

Marcus Vater, Vilma Gold

Essays & Reviews Evening Standard

ACHTUNG! Armed with a common, loose, fluid painting style and a relentless exhibition programme, a group of young German painters appear to be bent on art-world domination. Ten in number, with a hardcore who studied at the renowned art school in Düsseldorf, they exhibit together as the HoppypopMuseum collective and have shown in numerous venues across Europe as well as in London and New York.

Markus Vater is a founder member and is now having his first UK solo show at the East London gallery Vilma Gold. Like Sophie von Hellermann, the best known of the group, who recently had a solo show at the Saatchi Gallery, Vater favours a painterly, cartoony expressionism. Here he presents nine large, acrylic paintings and a video compilation of assorted animations. The subject matter is varied and random so that the show gives the impression, greatly exacerbated by the relaxed figurative style, of being a serendipitous stroll through Vater’s mind. Two semi-abstract paintings are “internal portraits”, part of a series in which Vater has tried to imagine “how it would be like inside someone”. Inside George Bush there is only a hollow grey vacuum, while Inside Pamela Anderson, apparently, there is a haze of washed-out orange silicon implants that resemble two fried egg shapes and a bad case of what Freud termed “vagina dentata”, or in more vulgar terms, a fear-of-castration-inducing sprouting of teeth in the vagina.

Bad dreams also infect Vater’s other work. In the enormous Bedroom Painting, a multitude of eyes float in a collaged dreamscape that occasionally has the intensity of oil paint due to the pure acrylic pigment that Vater uses to mix his own paints. In his animations, infused with a deadpan fatalism and executed in a faux- naïve manner, domestic disasters lurk around every corner.

Pets metamorphose into their owners and vice versa. People sitting in armchairs suddenly shrink so that the carpet becomes a fatal jungle, all of which exhibits the famous German sense of humour.

Until 30 June. Information: 020 7613 1609.