littlewhitehead getting bigger

16 November 2010 § Leave a comment

A pair of legs emerge from pink balloons that have floated to the ceiling. A boy with a Darth Vader mast sits alone in a row of school desks. Hoodies gather menacingly around a hidden corner. A hooded hostage is tied to a metal chair.

Maurizio Cattelan - Frank & Jamie

Welcome to the world of Littlewhitehead. Craig Little and Blake Whitehead are the two halves of this Glasgow-based art duo that take their inspiration from the city’s working class and bleak industrial landscape. Darkly humorous their work is initially reminiscent of Maurizio Cattelan pieces like the inverted policemen Frank & Jamie. But where the Italian gently mocks the system and the art world itself Littlewhitehead investigate rather darker aspects of life. There is the latent violence in the group of hoodies gathered in It Happened in the Corner; the schoolboy at the desks in Spam wears the helmet of the evil Darth Vader but is he lonely, alienated or violent?; the pretty pink balloons in Sentient Orbs have been cheerfully collected but the happiness is negated by the greed which has raised the owner to the ceiling.

“Within our work there is a strong connection between the reality that surrounds us and some kind of escapism to a made-up world,” littlewhitehead explain. “This made-up world is the construct of a dialogue between the two of us, which infuses scenes from an encyclopaedic range of references, from video nasties, to current events, and subconscious musings. It is in that world, unlike the one we actually inhabit, where we can fulfil these sinister desires.”

I initially dismissed their work at Saatchi, where It Happened was exhibited in Newspeak Part 1, but on further viewing I now appreciate their work more.  I think that perhaps in a new century these darker aspects of life have increasing resonance and relevance.

For collectors their work is currently extraordinarily good value – mostly well under £10,000 a piece – and in my mind is well worth considering. A little fairy tells me that they have something very big coming up this year (not allowed to tell, sorry) and now would be a great time to take a closer look at these interesting artists.

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