George Little’s paintings are figurative, abstract and patterned with crowded facades. They are both decorative and modernist, perhaps in the shadow of Matisse, whose ‘unsettled life’ and stained glass from the chapel in Vence is the subject of one of Little’s works, Unsettled Life, Henri’s (2012). They more usually feature the trappings and detritus from restaurants; for instance, a repeated white folded line, like the bobbing crest of a wave, becomes a parade of napkins in a beautiful little painting called Waiting (2011). Another painting is titled Menu for a Better Life (2012), and for this work Little cites Adolf Loos’s Café Museum in Vienna as an inspiration. Taken together, these two things lead me to think that his work straddles the border between the cleansing ideals of the modernist aesthetic and the ecstatic ritual, manners and gluttony of productive restaurant life.
Sometimes the paintings look as if they have rectangles of glass placed over them. This device seems to resurface areas of the canvas, altering the focus, and suggesting the frosted glass of the elite restaurant or gallery frontage. Through these painted panes you can make out forms that could be root vegetables or ornate cushions, I can’t quite tell; and it’s this border zone that makes the paintings so unexpected and troubling.
This article was originally published in the March 2013 issue.