Nick Hackworth

Keith Tyson: Geno/Pheno Paintings at Haunch of Venison

Essays & Reviews Evening Standard

Keith Tyson: Geno/Pheno Paintings Haunch of Venison, W1 IN Geno/Pheno Paintings, his first major UK exhibition since winning the Turner Prize in 2002, Keith Tyson continues his paradoxically distinctive exploration of depersonalising the creative process. In the mid Nineties the scientifically literate Tyson came to attention for the invention and use of his Artmachine, a complex system that, when fed with raw data, automatically issued instructions on making art works, telling the artist on one occasion to cast the entire KFC menu in lead and on another, to beam Morse Code messages to the moon. Here, he presents a series of large diptychs, in which the content of one, the geno painting, generates the second, the pheno painting. In Belladonna, for example, Tyson, has, on the first canvas, loosely painted the figure of a woman in burlesque costume and to her left placed three cats that float incongruously on the surface of the image. On the second panel, in a variety of exciting fonts, he describes in writing the serendipitous route his decision-making process took. In Locked Out of Eden, three from a series of titles on the first canvas, being Locked Out of Eden, A 60s PAN-AM Air Hostess Fetish and Pinball Wizardry inform the content of the second, densely painted, pop-art style piece that resembles a psychedelic rock album cover. Superficially, there’s a touch of the popular science book about Tyson’s work, along the lines of the Nineties fad for chaos theory that meant you couldn’t move for plays and novels that blamed butterflies beating their wings in China for everything from marital break-ups to the first Gulf War. Underlying the bright, attractiveness of Tyson’s work, however, is an interesting and sustained attempt to undermine the idea, still cherished in Western culture, of the authentic, self-contained individual who shapes the world accordingly to his will.