Derek Boshier Rethink/Re-entry Flowers Gallery London

19 November 2015 § Leave a comment

Pop art is very much alive and kicking. The World Goes Pop is currently at the Tate following on the heels of Post Pop: East Meets West at the Saatchi Gallery, the BBC ran a recent series BBC Four Goes PopAllen Jones was at the Royal Academy and Richard Hamilton had a solo show at the Tate last year. That is not even to mention continuing interest in other artists like David Hockney on the edges of the movement.

Derek Boshier Rething/Re-wind at Flowers Gallery London

Maybe it is because we are bored of the self referential world of post-modernism or perhaps there is a recognition of the present day relevance of the movement as we fight off an ever increasing barrage of media imagery. It could well be that Pop Art turns out to be modern art’s most influential movement, parodying all this mass media imagery whilst creating a startlingly prescient take on the world of today: the age of consumerism.

Derek Boshier Rething/Re-wind at Flowers Gallery London

Within this apparent surge of interest the work of Derek Boshier has found a new lease of life. Recently featured on BBC4’s ‘What do artists do all day’ (a series that also featured Sir Peter Blake) he now has a solo show at Flowers Gallery which also coincides with the release of an excellent Thames & Hudson monograph (reviewed here).

Derek Boshier Rething/Re-wind at Flowers Gallery London

The Rethink/ Re-entry exhibition features a fascinating range of rarely seen pieces, much from Boshier’s own collection whilst surveying the shifting emphasis of his art in the late sixties and early seventies. It re-examines his work of the period via the extraordinary variety of his practice – assemblages, collages, drawings, films, graphics and prints alongside more recent films and collages.

Derek Boshier Rething/Re-wind at Flowers Gallery London

In thé ground floor gallery we see the sharp political edge of his work in works like The Stun (1979), a spoof tabloid front page bringing together the Queen and Irish Violence with an incisive wit. Meanwhile in Hi Consumers Don’t Forget Nothing Lasts Forever (1978) Boshier takes a wry shot at consumer culture.

Derek Boshier Rething/Re-wind at Flowers Gallery London

Three perspex vitrines take a more conceptual angle and have a distinctly affinity with John Baldessari works of that time. King George V Avenue Cardiff from 1971 for example features a series of red circles and black columns lined in perspective along a found image of a broad street.

Derek Boshier_Rethink_Re-Entry at Flowers Gallery.

Boshier’s provocative and experimental approach was reflected within the gathering punk movement and also appreciated by David Bowie who commissioned him to work on LP sleeves, as well as stage set design. Featuring both on walls and vitrines are original drawings from Boshier’s collaborations with The Clash on graphics for the CLASH 2nd Songbook, and with Bowie for the 1979 album Lodger. He happily told Boshier ‘do what you like’ for the interior of the gatefold sleeve; Boshier obliged with a collage on mortality that Bowie loved.

Derek Boshier Rething/Re-wind at Flowers Gallery London

His versatility continues with a neat Joseph Cornell style box from 1976, State of Mind, that makes a statement both on consumerism and politics combining a toiletry bottle and newspaper cutting featuring strikers.

Derek Boshier, State of Mind, 1976, Mixed media construction in box frame (c) Derek Boshier, Courtesy of Flowers Gallery

Downstairs three series of photographed images are a different take on Hockney’s photo collages and Ed Ruscha’s Every Building on the Sunset Strip. From his 1978 Routes series a sequential strip of images introduce time as an element as the camera’s lens takes a ‘stroll’ at three different locations.

Boshier Install Rethink/Re-wind Flowers Gallery

In yet another media, film, Boshier’s 1973 Change is also showing, along with three more from 2014. In Change Boshier spliced sequences of still images from an installation at his Whitechapel Gallery retrospective of the same year. It remained unopened for 38 years, until its recent rediscovery provoked his desire to create new films using contemporary digital technologies.

Derek Boshier Rething/Re-wind at Flowers Gallery London

Last but not least are four collaged works from 2014, each edged with his trademark broad black lines.

Derek Boshier Rethink/Re-wind at Flowers Gallery

They look effortless and Boshier reminds us that his talent for drawing, eye for design as well as his desire to make works politically relevant are all still as strong as ever. He remains an important figure not only in the story of Pop Art but also in the contemporary art world.

Rethink/ Re-entry is at Flowers Gallery until 7 November 2015

For more information visit www.flowersgallery.com

Images courtesy of the artist, Flowers Gallery and CELLOPHANELAND*

Allen Jones RA at the Royal Academy London

1 November 2015 § Leave a comment

It seems that any debate about the artistic merits of Allen Jones’s works are almost entirely overwhelmed by the public reaction to his infamous female nudes. Drawing on the imagery of bondage and rubber fetishism his highly sexualised sculptures were a sensation when first revealed to a shocked sixties public, whilst fifty years or so on from their creation, they still stir strong views from people who tend towards the love/hate ends of the spectrum.

Allen Jones RA
This is a pity because his work represents an important contribution to british pop art of the era.  Jones’s paintings in particular have been the unfortunate casualty of this on-going controversy. These works are bright, exuberant and original , fully deserving inclusion amongst the very best artists of the pop generation.  He slips in easily alongside his superstar contemporaries Kitaj and Hockney, who he effortlessly matches in colour, exuberance and originality. Even the likes of  Peter Blake, Derek Boshier and Richard Hamilton seem conservative in comparison.
Allen Jones RA
In this long overdue exhibition – Jones’s first major show since 1995 – we find not only the renowned ‘furniture’ works, but also large steel sculptures, canvases and the rarely-seen storyboards Jones uses to plan many of his compositions. Ranging freely across a variety of media, this is a life’s work of incredible depth and ambition; work that is sometimes provocative, always striking, and charged with the energy and vitality of human life.
Allen Jones RA
His large canvases are largely gathered together in room three of the exhibition where works from the sixties through to the present day are shown together in a non-chronological hang. Assimilating his broad knowledge and understanding of the traditions of European art, he confidently applies them to his work where one immediately detects an absorption of the works of the Abstract Expressionists and the Surrealists as well as the palette of the Fauvists – as an obvious homage to Matisse, he even entitles one painting of a female torso: Luxe, Calme et Volupté.
Allen Jones RA

From the canvases we move on to two large spaces filled with his sculptural works. To illustrate the natural connection of Hamiltons 3D works to his paintings, the first one of these was largely occupied by highly original sculptures where two dimensional sheets of wood and steel have been cut, twisted and folded. With this seemingly simple process, Jones has created complex, dynamic and stylish objects that illustrate his consummate talents.

Allen Jones RA

photo 3

The final large gallery consists of his most controversial female sculptures. Standing terracotta-warrior style paraded across the room they are rather unnerving and one’s unease at viewing them works is immediate.  Is he brilliantly revealing the male voyeuristic gaze and exposing how men really look at or think about women. Or does he simply just enjoy creating fetishistic sculptures of women?

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 21.10.47

Although his public statements have been equivocal, one has to suspect the former. This is what he said about his ‘furniture’ works: “presenting the figures as objects that would demand an immediate, non-art response: ie, chair – sitting; table – using. I attempted to dislocate the normal expectations when the viewer wishes to confront a work of art.”

Allen Jones RA
Allen Jones is at the Royal Academy until the 25 January 2015. For more information visit www.royalacademy.org.uk

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