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by William Feaver The Observer 27th March 1994
The ramifications of the new paintings by Jeffrey Dennis
(Anderson O'Day, Portobello Road W11 to 16 April) are
distracting. He gets there eventually, and then wonders
why, and his form of narrative is strung out like the tube
map and subject, as the London Underground intercom so
often says, to delays.
Each picture is liable to trail
over more than one piece of hardboard. Each is composed of
a number of vignette images; snapshots, in effect, couched
in dense and bewildering tracts of hand-painted foam. Each
blink of everyday scene is lucky to survive, floating or
embedded in the scum.
Dennis creates confusion in his paintings, partly by
laying on so much bubble mixture and partly by
disconnecting the links from one zone to another. Crudely
painted pipes – conduits, tunnels, cabling ducts – break
the surface, trompe l'oeil fashion, flushing
images into the open.
It seems he paints whatever comes to mind. A break-in,
through an upstairs window, lettuce leaves, Brighton
Pavilion, Dennis the Menace, the streets of Leytonstone,
are carefully depicted, as though being taken down and
used in evidence.
A preoccupation, understandably for a Londoner, is the
Central Line. Stations, carriages, people waiting, are
lingered over. Impatience gets you nowhere. Dennis
represents journeying as moves on a board game or, when
the going gets worse, as a process of being treated like
The paintings thrive on snags. Gobs of raw paint disturb
the froth. Blemishes are overcome, faults identifies.
Glimpses of the better life, in the back garden, may be
spoilt by the intrusive Flymo, but every time he gets a
hold on reality the is graphic relief. Peeking through the
suds, seeing visions in the washing machine porthole, he
presses on, taking what comes. The infrastructure may be
clapped out, but painting still has its uses along the