Arrested Development in Thomas Mailaender’s Man Cave

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As with all Mailaender’s work, Gone Fishing appears to be a cavalier exploration of a very contemporary male trauma. But there is something instinctive about the way Mailaender visualises and conceives the dialectic tensions of banal, day to day life.
As you look through the peep hole to the monotonous recording of excuses and weak avowals of love, there is a certain pathos to how the estranged man might, in many ways, be a more attentive father and husband in absence than in reality.
Mailaender’s Roman Road exhibition is the latest in a series of previous collaborations between the artist and the gallery.
Here the central mechanism is exchanged for brick effect wallpaper imitating a single household garage –  19 typed letters and photos displayed in the physical embodiment of a man cave. “I was thinking of recreating an old shed, but now we’re doing a fake panic room,” he says.
Thomas Mailaender, Letter #5 - Dolphinus, 2010. A4 typed letter. (c) Thomas Mailaender
With his eye constantly trained to the absurd, the show navigates escapism as a time old, yet also modern, preoccupation. Self-portraiture has an uncanny habit of becoming insidiously personal to the viewer too and the humour here highlights how culpable we might be as a younger generation of prolonging our childhood.
Even the sanctuary of the man cave appears as a transition into something more abstract; our excuses digitally rendered now, rather than going unsaid at the bottom of the garden.
Discover more of Mailender’s work hereGone Fishing opens tonight at Roman Road gallery, 69 Roman Road London E2 0QN United Kingdom. Continues until Friday 15 April.