The Invisible Hand, Pupaphobia and the Puppet State (NVA 11, 2013)

“The puppet is what best represents the position of man in today’s manipulated world. The hand of a puppeteer is always the hand of one who ‘leads’, the hand of the Great Manipulator. The puppet’s immobile expression, its inability to mimic, does not allow it to communicate the subtle oscillations of the soul, but it … 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

Taking The Michael (NVA, 2012)

Taking The Michael (Out/Side/Film, 2012) 78m Ian Nesbitt receives a call from Matthew Pountney, who has in turn received a call of his own – or at least, “a very direct communication” – from the universe. “It’s something to do with 2012”, he explains, referring to the Mayan Prophecy that is often interpreted as meaning … Continue reading

Art Made By All, or Art in the Public Realm? (NVA, 2013)

“The enrichment of life calls inexorably for the analysis of the new forms taken by poverty and the perfection of the old weapons of refusal…” Raoul Vaneigem: The Revolution of Everyday Life (1967) “I tried to map a space where the everyday was the focus. An everyday that is at one level a source of … 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

An A to Z of Artists Writing and Writers in Art (NVA, 2009)

A is for…Guillaume Apollinaire Guillaume Apollinaire was born in 1880 and died in 1918, but in his 38 years of life he packed in a great deal, consolidating the foundations of modernism as we know it in poetry, fiction and art with a stream of works including Zone, Calligrammes, Alcools and the stories and short … Continue reading

Ian Breakwell’s The Elusive State of Happiness (QUAD Gallery, 2010)

There has been some confusion about this exhibition, which was initially billed as Breakwell’s first solo retrospective, then later re-branded as the first since his death in 2005, at the relatively young age of 62, but whichever it might be, it’s definitely his biggest showing to date in his home city of Derby, and one … Continue reading

Towards A Post-War Aesthetic: The Design Research Unit and This Is Tomorrow (NVA, 2011)

“In other words, what is required as a preliminary to any practical solution of the division existing between art and industry is a clear understanding, not only of the processes of modern production, but also of the nature of art. Not until we have reduced the work of art to its essentials, stripped it of … Continue reading

Angels of Anarchy – Women Artists and Surrealism (NVA, 2009)

So many misconceptions about Surrealism are unquestioningly peddled as historical fact in the public domain that addressing the subject often feels like approaching a thicket of weeds with a machete. Reviews of the current exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery, curated by Patricia Allmer, have offered a case in point, with broadsheet critics repeating various myths, … Continue reading