Apr 27 2012: Twenty-One Modernist Monuments, Buildings and Memorials from a Guide to the former Yugoslavia (Yugoslaviapublic Beograd, 1980)

The volume that these photographs of futuristic monuments, public sculptures and buildings were selected from is a mammoth guide to the whole territory of the former Yugoslavia (now the separate states of Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro) packed with historic landscapes, landmarks and artefacts. Published in English around 1980, it’s presumably intended as a … Continue reading

Apr 24 2012: A Gallery Showing Six Generic Soviet Union Paper Record Sleeve Designs (Melodija, 1960s)

These paper record sleeves, produced by various regional branches of the Soviet Union’s state record label, Melodija, were made to provide generic covers inside which pretty much any type of music might be housed, whether classical, folk, jazz, pop or Red Army choirs. In some respects, these generic sleeves are the equivalents of the 7″ … Continue reading

Apr 19 2012: Painting Sunsets by Violet Parkhurst (Walter T Foster Publications, 1960s)

Although it’s something of a cliche to claim the general public neither understands nor likes conceptual art, or contemporary art that doesn’t show evidence of traditional skill, seeing such work as a species of charlatanry, I’m not sure the theory stands up when it’s examined in more detail. The guide to painting sunsets seen above … Continue reading

Photocanopy: Three Photographers in the National Forest (2014)

You might expect the boundary of a forest to be clearly visible, marked by the point where trees thin out into grass and open ground, but in the case of the National Forest, which occupies an area of around 200 square miles and spans the counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire, you’d be mistaken. Of … Continue reading

Jan 15 2012: Pop Life: Art in a Material World at Tate Modern (NVA, 2012)

Can an exhibition in which around two thirds of the art on display is dated, shabby, and deliberately crass still be a show worth viewing? In the case of Tate Modern’s big winter display, curated by Jack Bankowsky, Alison M Gingeras and Catherine Wood, the answer is a tentative ‘yes’, partly because it asks some … Continue reading

Mark McGowan’s Where’s Daddy’s Pig? (Trade Gallery, 2013)

You could probably argue that there’s no real reason to visit Where’s Daddy’s Pig?, the Mark McGowan exhibition that’s been running at Trade Gallery since May, on the grounds that everything it contains is already part of his own ARTIST TAXI DRIVER YouTube channel, where McGowan regularly posts campaigning rants (and occasionally more subdued musings) … Continue reading

Enfants Terrible : How The First Wave of British Pop Art Got To Stick Around (NVA, 2012)

“Pop did not count ‘ephemeral’ as an insult. It was for the present, and even more for the future: it was not for the past, and saw nothing to regret in the changes which had come about in England since 1945…” [John Russell in Pop Art Redefined, Thames & Hudson, 1969] “Hockney’s range is maybe … Continue reading

Magic Show at QUAD Gallery (NVA, 2009)

The conjuror and the conceptual artist, the con-trick and the act of construction: each shares something deeper than its ‘con’ prefix, a connection that goes beyond linguistic roots to evoke focus and misdirection, suggestion and the act of ‘making visible’, the arts of provocation and end-of-pier entertainment. It’s a range made explicit in Jonathan Allen’s … Continue reading

An Interview with Adel Abdessemed: Happiness in Mitte (Metro, 2005)

Multiple and shifting meanings are the essence of Adel Abdessemed’s work, which ranges across mediums and styles in a way that echoes the migrations of the artist himself after leaving his native Algeria in 1994. Since that time, he has lived and worked in Lyon, Paris, New York and Berlin, crossing national borders almost as … Continue reading

The Persistence of Coloured Mud, or the multiple and much exaggerated deaths of painting (NVA, 2012)

I: In debates about art, it often seems as though the only thing to be reported more regularly than the death of painting is its miraculous recovery and re-emergence from its latest grave. Despite the many technological, political and aesthetic challenges to its centrality and relevance, the expressive form once described by Robert Hughes as … Continue reading