“- when first we practice to deceive -”
Deceit is a game artists play. One that painters are particularly adept at. Rendered in two-dimensions though determined to contrive a third, figurative art has been turning its hand to trickery since the 5th century, when the Greek painter Zeuxis depicted grapes convincing enough to bamboozle birds. Representation is a game: of chance, sleight-of-hand and stage-magic, of seduction, debauchery, and religious pageantry, performed by way of mimicry and duplicity. House of Games explores the many facets of this elaborate performance; a visual guide to the illimitable meanings, mythos, and metaphors imbued in the art of deception.
Roger Boyce’s games of chance resemble artfully scaled-down simulations, facsimiles of life’s daily pas de deux with destiny. Bets are on, the roulette wheel spins, and players strive to prevail against odds that will never be in their favour. The house always wins, after all.
In some works, the game of love is one of contradiction; carnal desire seemingly at odds with fidelity, intimacy incompatible with familiarity. Though through play – artful costumes, script, staging – eros is revitalised, summoned by the beguilement of imagination and creativity.
In others, narcotics become stimulants of ingenuity, spurring users to divert practicality in favour of more imaginative pursuits. Enhancing, distorting and ornamented, sensory experience becomes unstuck from unimodality; a synaesthetic blend to iniquitous ends. Such games are not without personal cost.
The thread of deceit – sleight-of-hand and stage magic – runs through this series; the act necessitating a willing seller and eager buyer. Here, Boyce is as much a merchant as magician, selling his wares through legerdemain: a promise of momentary deliverance from the binding restrictions of mundanity. Our suspension of disbelief ‘buys’ the trick and lives for a moment in the magic’s thrall.