I painted these pictures with no hope and wild laughter, Derek Jarman 1992
The paintings in this exhibition were first exhibited at Manchester City Art Gallery in 1992. They deal with love, sex and death and are a direct response to media coverage of the AIDS crisis in the UK.
Jarman assembled a collection of the tabloid news headlines at the time and pasted many into his notebooks. He used these homophobic and sexist captions as a backdrop for the paintings, scrawling words into a coating of variously coloured, smeared pigments as his voracious and darkly humorous response. These works form a cacophony of protest, uniting Jarman’s interest in language and painting in an incisive exposé of the iniquities of the gutter press.
Commanding renewed attention in a ‘post-truth’ world, these paintings are a prescient reminder of the enduring power of the media. As Simon Watney put it in his essay for the publication accompanying the Manchester show in 1992, ‘Far from being memento mori these pictures are, amongst other things, a call to action.’