the pavement and the beach at paradise row

30 July 2011 § Leave a comment

Sous les paves, la plage’ were the words scrawled on a Parisian shop front during the Paris student riots of May 1968. This exhibition tries to draw on the fact that earlier this year the same phrase was scrawled on to a wall at UCL during the student riots. An idea that quite rightly should have been considered but perhaps put aside for, as the press release from the Paradise Row gallery correctly points out, ‘the slogan seemed strangely second-hand, insubstantial and inert’.

Shazeed Dawood & Peter Lewis

A strange starting point for an exhibition that I feel inevitably does not work very well. The original slogan inspired by the Situationist movement of Guy Debord alluded to a utopian world of imagination, freedom and liberty that lay below – or beyond – the consumerist manufactured world.  Paradise Row seeks to reflect on the fact that this beach has ‘long since been colonised by capital’  and ‘explores the debris and flotsam that have washed up on the receding shores’.

Jeremy Hutchison

There is certainly plenty of debris and flotsam around (what about the jetsam for jetsam fans!?) and it is hard therefore to make out any real theme here and draw any meaningful connections between the visual clutter around the gallery. There are some interesting works – I quite liked the two Clunie Reid offerings as well as Diann Bauer’s Mural  and Peter Lewis’s Project for a Film. I particularly enjoyed Jeremy Hutchison’s Incorrect Product contacting manufacturers around the world he asked them to make their product with a design fault – of their own choosing – that rendered it useless. We therefore have glasses that cannot be worn, a hat with no hole for the head, a trombone without a blowpiece, a stepladder with legs of varying lengths and so on. The communications, often unintentionally humorous, are available to read. A nice variation perhaps on Oscar Wilde’s famous assertion that ‘all art is useless’.

Am I being too picky? Perhaps there was more to unify the exhibition with more time taken to examine and explore, but it is a minor criticism as Paradise Row are an excellent small gallery and I will inevitably be back to see what they do next.

Paradise Row 74 Newman St, London W1T 3DB until 13 August 2011

conceptual art and chaos

18 March 2011 § Leave a comment

Loosely on the theme of my recent post ‘Computer Geeks and the Artists Statement’  I felt that should inform everyone about an upcoming event organised by The Speaker Society and taking place at one of the more enlightened London Galleries: Paradise Row. On the 22 March 2011 Simon Baker will be giving a lecture entitled Conceptual Art and Chaos. Whether the lecture is part of the problem or part of the solution I will leave you to judge. It is certainly a debate that is needed and should prove very interesting – I quote directly from the press release below:

What would it mean to think about the notion of the work of art at the beginning of the twenty-first century by considering the provocative proposition that conceptual art is at the end of its tether; how would this conceptual bankruptcy manifest itself and what kinds of alternative practices might force themselves into play?

This talk will take as its starting point the premise that the notion of progress or development in contmeporary conceptual art has become radically compromised by the inward-spiral of self-referentiality inherent to conceptual practice itself: that what was originally a radical component of critical practice in terms of the historic avant-gardes has become the spanner in the works, resulting in an ornamental neo-roccoco parody of criticality, in which production seizes itself up into chrystalline inertia.

How in other words, should we understand the relationship between form and content in a context in which reality is increasingly mediated and digested through conceptual conceits? Is the ‘real’ which was supposed to have returned in conceptual practice years ago now ready to side step it completely, and just turn up, an awkward, uninvited and unwanted guest?

Much more of a series of questions that suggested answers, this talk will consider issues of political and emotional engagement, immediacy, idiocy, mediocrity and failure in the hypothetical aftermath of conceptual art.’

The event details:

Tuesday 22 March 2011 | 7 pm for a 7:30 start – Places are limited so booking is essential. To make a reservation, please contact: Price: £3 | Concessions: £2. Location: Paradise Row Gallery, Address: 74 Newman Street, London, W1T 3DB. For more information visit

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