Barbara Kruger, Robert Fraser, And Hugh Scott-Douglas – London West End Exhibition Round-up

Barbara Kruger

Barbara Kruger Early Works – Skarstedt Gallery, London

Skarstedt London presents the exhibition of seminal early works by American artist Barbara Kruger. The exhibition features Kruger’s trademark black and white photographs, overlaid with the artist’s provocative captions. This group of works, selected from the 1980s, examines the cultural constructions of power, identity and sexuality through their juxtaposition of text and imagery.

The work is presented in the artist’s signature red enamel frames, and although dating back to the 80’s Kruger’s selection of works still has an ageless and relevant quality, drawing on the artist’s background in graphic design. Kruger’s stylistic practice has remained consistent throughout her career, in a attempt to challenge to language of and structures of the consumerist culture that surrounds us. The artist created, in a sense, her own brand.

The artist’s work subverts the media’s illusions and aspirations in an attempt, in turn, to subvert American socio-culture for its own means. Kruger’s ground-breaking works of the 1980s still remain punchy and immediate, and contributed significantly to the discourse of Conceptual Art, Semiotics and Feminism, during that decade. The artist commodifies her own work, her own socio-cultural statements as a means to create a discourse about the language of mass media manipulation.

Barbara Kruger Early Works – Skarstedt Gallery – until 11 April 2015

A Strong Sweet Smell Of Incense – A Portrait Of Robert Fraser – Curated by Brian Clarke – Pace Gallery, London

Pace Gallery London presents ‘A Strong Sweet Smell of Incense’, an extensive exhibition taking as inspiration from the character and career of celebrated art dealer and pioneer, Robert Fraser. The show is curated by Brian Clarke, the exhibition is “a personal portrait” of Robert Fraser told in artworks and curated by the artist. Clarke was a close friend of Fraser and is also one of several artists who were once represented by the Robert Fraser Gallery during the period – including Jim Dine, Claes Oldenburg and Jean Dubuffet.

Fraser is probably best known for being immortalised his dealer in by the late Richard Hamilton in his Pop Art masterpiece Swingeing London 67, a screen print of a famous news image in which Fraser is handcuffed to Mick Jagger inside a police van, following their appearance in court on drugs charges. The title refers to the term Swinging London and mocks the judge’s decision on imposing what he literally called a swingeing penalty.

The exhibition is an ecclectic mix of great art, from Basquiat, Warhol, and Dennis Hopper, to Bacon, Hockney, and Hamilton, evoking the artistically flourishing London of the 1960s, when popular culture took hold of a generation of artists, the show reflects the energy, flamboyance, and dynamism of this seminal and highly sophisticated aesthete.

A Strong Sweet Smell Of Incense – A Portrait Of Robert Fraser – Curated by Brian Clarke – Pace Gallery, London – until 28 March 2015

Hugh Scott-Douglas – Consumables – Simon Lee Gallery, London

Simon Lee Gallery presents Hugh Scott-Douglas’ first exhibition at the gallery, and the artist’s first solo show in London. Scott-Douglas’ work examines the indecisive transition from analogue to digital systems, as a signifier of shifting modes in the processing of information, nostalgia, and the changing meaning of objects when losing practical function, resulting in a change of context.

The artist uses pages appropriated from maintenance manuals for Patek Philippe watches, combined with ‘Screentone’ prints, a technique Scott-Douglas has used across a number of recent bodies of work. The artist highlights the fetishisation of value, longevity and inheritance, juxtaposed with the obsolescence which recur elsewhere in Scott-Douglas’ work.

A second body of work develops the theme. ‘Heavy Images’ consist of out of date billboard images, printed on vinyl, folded and rolled onto neatly bundled units. The vinyl images have been repurposed as covers for farmers’ crops, pond liners, patches for damaged doors or sculptures, their photographic images obscured, with their original meaning subverted, they are a re-used by-product of a dead economy, exhausted of their original context, meaning, and purpose, they signify the mechanism of value transfer through cultural systems perpetually in flux.

Hugh Scott-Douglas – Consumables – Simon Lee Gallery, London – until 20 March 2015

Read the second part of Artlyst’s West End area review by Fiona Robinson here

Words: Paul Black Photos: P A Black © Artlyst 2015 all rights reserved


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