‘Phantasieblume’ reveals Nick Fox’s aesthetic exploration of material and image, through which a nostalgic desire for a Wilde-like encoding of oppressed sexuality unfolds and is made potent.

Fox’s paintings, drawings and objects are informed by romantic idealisation, cultural artifact and social codes. Historically, the austere morality codes of Victorian society forced courtship into a clandestine world of signs and symbols. Floriography, a coded form of language developed in which the act of giving and receiving flowers became loaded with secretive messages of longing from one lover to another.

In 1884, Kate Greenaway published ‘Language of Flowers’, a common dictionary of codes that subsequently fell into decline. Fox is interested in how we communicate our desires in a contemporary context. Rather than merely resurrecting this forgotten language of the fin de siècle, Fox has found his own way of inverting the coded articulation of desire, playfully and subtly expressing a highly personal and symbolic pictorial language of concealment.

‘Phantasieblume’ is Fox’s first solo exhibition at Vane, touring from the Centre for Recent Drawing, London, with the addition of new, previously unseen works. The exhibition consists of a series of paintings and objects created over the past two and a half years. Created by carefully crafting layered skins of acrylic paint on glass, the paint is then intricately cut through, creating elaborate, decorative objects that resemble the preciousness of handcrafted Victorian lace. Upon closer inspection, their fragile tendrils conceal an erotic charge – delicately observed erotic figurative drawings are interwoven with competing elements of decoration; nude figures emerge from the sensual surfaces to create tantalising, elusive narratives of desire and courtship.

The Late Shows: Saturday 15 May, 7pm-Midnight

The North East’s fantastic free culture crawl, The Late Shows, is back again for the fourth year running and this year it’s bigger and better! On Friday 14 May and Saturday 15 May, NewcastleGateshead’s cultural scene will be exploding into life as The Late Shows hit the streets for an entire weekend. For The Late Shows Vane presents two special events at the gallery, ‘The Longing Archive’ and ‘The Longing Disco’, to accompany ‘Phantasieblume’.

The Longing Archive

A project initiated during Fox’s recent residency at the National Glass Centre, Sunderland, continuing his fascination with the social and symbolic codes of contemporary romantic desire. Fox is making an archive of unwanted love letters, objects given and received during courtship, along with the ephemera of romance and desire. The Late Shows visitors are invited to contribute their love letters as well as stories of rejection and unrequited love. Bring them along on the night, posting them into ‘The Longing Archive’ postbox at Vane, or by posting them directly to the gallery. The letters will be shown in a temporary display and a letter writing area will also be available to write your own letter to someone you desire.

The Longing Disco

The theme of the night continues by recreating the nostalgia of the ‘Lucky 7’s’ disco where everyone brought their own records to the party. The Late Shows visitors are invited to bring their own records to play. Records must have personal significance: records played during the first rush of passion, break-up songs, proposals, secretive encounters, last snog of the night songs. All musical tastes are welcome but limited to three songs per person. ‘The Longing Disco’ continues until 12.05am, with the last dance at midnight.

Supported by Arts Council England, Newcastle University and the National Glass Centre, Sunderland, C4RD, Crafts Council and Culture Lab.