Keith Coventry: Ontological Pictures at Vigo

16 June 2014 § Leave a comment

Keith Coventry seems destined to be one of the ‘nearly men’ of British art. Despite being championed by Saatchi and featuring in the Sensation exhibition that helped make the names of many of the YBA’s Coventry has remained stubbornly on the sidelines.

Keith Coventry Estate Pictures

Perhaps his work is either not showy enough or too dry to catch on to popular taste. Nevertheless he has plenty of followers for his intelligent and interesting work.

Keith Coventry Ontological Pictures

He is most well known perhaps for his Estate Paintings. Here Coventry famously used the diagrammatic representations of the buildings themselves that, when denuded of the surrounding information, strangely recall the formal aesthetic language of Suprematism – that aimed at the creation of a new, pure, abstract visual language freed from the dull constraints of representation.

Keith Coventry Ontological Pictures

As art writer Matthew Collings said “These paintings capture the moment when modernist Utopian dreams — the well-meant belief that peoples’ lives would be bettered by living in clean, modern, high rise buildings, with lifts, way up above the street with plenty of fresh air—evaporated.” 

Keith Coventry Ontological Pictures

Vigo is showing here his Ontological Pictures (1996 – 2004) – the first show dedicated to this important series – where Coventry has taken the arrow and location symbols that accompany the legend YOU ARE HERE frequently found on those same estate maps, and turning them into wooden models which are then scattered randomly onto the canvas to create the content of the paintings.

Keith Coventry Ontological Pictures

In both series the process of isolating and re-contextualizing these specific visual elements has allowed Coventry to, with an extreme economy of expression animated by a subtle, dry wit, throw the ideological and theoretical meanings within those symbols into stark relief. He mocks the utopian social hopes of certain strands of Modernism that conceived high-density urban housing as a solution to a raft of social ills of modern life.

Keith Coventry solo shows don’t come around too often – this is an excellent opportunity to see one the other YBA’s for a change.

Keith Coventry: Ontological pictures at VIGO London until 28 June 2014

The Artists Colouring Book of ABC’s launched at the Serpentine Gallery

13 December 2013 § 1 Comment

I dropped in to the Serpentine Gallery last night for a charity auction event in support of  the Kids Company Charity. A veritable who’s who of top contemporary artists were all persuaded to each donate a drawing representing a particular letter of the alphabet (the full list is below).

Grayson Perry

Grayson Perry produced a plethora of ‘P’ objects in a typically witty sketch, Harland Miller a wicked Devil cartoon, Tracey Emin lazily scribbled a cat (representing A for Animal – what?) Jake and Dinos Chapman went wild with O’s – in a design that also featured on hostesses dresses – and Keith Tyson‘s neatly drawn treasure map featured a prominent X (of course!)

Keith Tyson

Paula Rego‘s excellent contribution was a dark, contorted monkey whilst my money would have gone on bidding for a colourful Gillian Ayres or a great work from Joseph Kosuth – a ‘G’  with another ‘G’ in a thought bubble.

Gillian Ayres Festival

The end result was The Artists Colouring Book of ABC’s a fun book for adults and for children to approach the alphabet through an exciting interplay with art. Each original work was auctioned either by Sotheby’s guest auctioneer Henry Wyndham or offered in a silent sealed auction.

Jake & Dinos Chapman

Hopefully the end result was a success for the charity although the rent-a-crowd (from  the event planners who very kindly donated their time) to me seemed to consist of rather more B list wannabes out for a party than art collectors?

Serpentine Gallery

The book would make a great Christmas gift for parents who want to display their arty credentials amongst fellow parents or a cool adults gift, especially in the £250 boxed limited edition version that includes a Chapman Brothers editioned print!


The Artists Colouring Book of ABC’s  (buy here)

Size: 265 x 365 mm, 60 pages, 200gms. Paperback. RRP: £15.99

Charlotte Colbert, Alix Janta and Lauren Jones. A collaboration between AlteriaArt & Humpty Dumpty Publishing

A is for Tracey Emin
B is for Fiona Banner
C is for Alex Katz
D is for Harland Miller
E is for Chantal Joffe
F is for Gillian Ayres
G is for Joseph Kosuth
H is for Betty Woodman
I is for Gary Hume
J is for Pietro Ruffo
K is for Cathie Pilkington
L is for Mat Collishaw
M is for Paula Rego
N is for Keith Coventry
O is for Jake & Dinos Chapman
P is for Grayson Perry
Q is for Bob & Roberta Smith
R is for Gavin Turk
S is for Rachel Howard
T is for Polly Morgan
U is for Georgie Hopton
V is for Maggi Hambling
W is for Paul Fryer
X is for Keith Tyson
Y is for Yinka Shonibare
Z is for Marc Quinn

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