06. 07 — 04. 08. 2013
Kling & Bang gallery
As British politics started once again to chase its own tail against the background of further vicious cuts to the arts the artist Dominic Allan, aka Dominic from Luton, took matters in to his own hands to fly the flag for Britain. No self-proclaiming jingoism here, just a desire to make things happen: willpower over budget: ambition and talent superseding any economic imperative. On-going conversations with Kling & Bang, an internationally established Icelandic artist-run-space (based in Reykjavik), resulted in London Utd – not so much a celebration of London itself but the relationships that make it tick, via Luton, of course.
All of the works in the exhibition present the dramatic, glorious point where everything sits on the edge of the abyss, looks down and laughs, poking fun at the sheer audacity of chaos. Mark Titchner’s emblematic work, The World Isn’t Working, has been translated into Icelandic and realised in the red, white and blue of our symbiotic identities. Whilst subtly referencing the gentle typography of folk art the statement demands our attention much as the glorious Trade Union banners, now housed in museums, shouted for the international rights of men and women. Another symbol of fading glories, the Transit van, becomes the centre-piece of Gavin Turk’s work Large Transit Disaster Diptych 2013. A direct homage to Warhol’s Car Crash series Turk’s work as ever comes with many layers, referencing that underbelly of British life, the white van man – his downfall underpinned as the Luton-based car factories collapse. Allan’s own work, Dominic from Luton as Paul Young, continues to unpick the demise of the hero – or perhaps provokes its resurrection. His pre–performance photograph as the 80’s icon, dressed in images of himself as himself, now singing for a pint in the local working men’s club, bravely looks you in the eye, demanding attention but asking for your confirmation nonetheless.
It’s a powerful choice to consistently reference and re-use your own work. Confidence exudes through the works as all of the artists in this exhibition as they exert authority over their practice and imagery. Laura White continually pushes and pulls at the conventions inherent in presenting work. Conformity has no place as her new drawings for London Utd flip the sculptural norm and photographs of her sharply coloured sculptures are reprinted in monochrome and painstakingly overdrawn with pencil. Suggestive of the fading black and white photographs of old National Geographic’s her earlier references to anthropological collections come into full focus and begin new conversations not least around our current place in the world.
As honest appraisals of his journey through a work and deliberately sliding in and out of easy definition Peter Lamb’s diptych for London Utd highlights the role of the artist, artwork, studio and audience – all bound together in a complex, unfolding relationship. The familiar touchstone of his studio floor is reworked through photography and scale, overlaid with paint and studio materials, the work finally titled by his children. Chaos has been put in a box, allowed out on occasion to shake its finger at us all, allowing chance instead to reign supreme.
And so London Utd, a group of artists brought together by player manager Allan, heads to Iceland for an away game with a welcoming host, bound together by the sheer confidence of works that all have something to say.
Text by Lucy Day Photos courtesy of Inguar Högni Ragnarsson.