Laz Gallery, Greek Street, 4 April – 2 May
Thursdays, perfect for a night to seek sensory stimulation, art and free beer. Tonight’s cultural oddessy started at Cargo gardens for live charity painting by Bristol Graff legends and 1980s Banksy contemporaries Inkie, Cheba, Cheo and Lokey. We watched and sniffed the spray work under progress, we listened to Bristol poets sounding like reactionary Wurzel Gummages with humour, perhaps a scanning equivalent of Banksy. Tangent books were selling Bansky’s Bristol with author Steve Wright on hand to scribble his name inside.
It’s worth checking flickr for pictures of the completed pieces, Inkie’s in particular is awesome. Didn’t have time to stick around to watch them finish as it was…..
… to Laz’s where to our immense surprise we have managed for the first time in two years as a buying customer (ok… a couple of prints 2 years ago, that’s one a year if you average it out) to get included on the list for Mode2’s new show.
Gone are the bootylicious libidinous party girls and in their place are distinctly policital, socio-political and environmentalist themes
The first canvas, We Believe In One God, is a kind of religious clash, male figures dressed in characteristic religious and ethnic clothing batter the living daylights out of each other in an “you’re all as bad as eachother” allegory of all religions being equally to blame for conflict.
Seig Heil, pastel, acrylic and canvas like all the works in this show, depicts a street scene on a cold shadow-less day with a pair of down and out street drinkers giving a nazi salute to an apparently middle-class couple with child in a pram, the backdrop being a shop called Kaisers – the title of German emperors up to the first world war. To equate the passing family to fascists seems a bit extreme but their evident comfort, their togetherness, the cut of their clothes does set them over the two itinerants but the family themselves have a blindspot to the plight of the humanity sinking deep into the embrace of the bottle.
Butterflies In The Springtime pushes both an environmental agenda as well as protesting about in-equitable share of land wealth, specifically targeted at the harm done in the process of commodity raping third world countries. A steel mill belching noxious fumes to fuel the greed and consumption of the developed world squats incongruously in a pleasant green prairie though which butterflies flit. A naked negro child whose lack of clothes symbolises his non-participation in the comsumerist acquisition of possessions gazes up at the billowing smoke, the sole element of the process in which he gets more than his share.
The concept of un-recompensed theft of precious raw materials from the rightful occupants of the land is repeated in All You Get Is, a native figure fruitlessly scratching around the soil whilst societies “haves” look forward to a convenience world of diamonds, gold and black oil.
The most dramatic piece is a burning hot gathering of people under the gaze of a couple of armed men, though we only see their sinister weapons. The context of the gathering of the people is ambiguous, they might be celebrating a feast, they could be captured, the urns balanced on the heads may contain water, or perhaps food; perhaps it is a fire that is out of control and not a party bonfire. Who knows, but it is good to have something to speculate about.
The most, perhaps the only optimistic piece in the show, that which perhaps prompts the plea in the title, is a familiar Mode2 luscious female figure ripe to give birth. Life Expectancy has a gorgeous rich patina, warm and almost satiny to look at.
All the works are mounted on striped back to plaster gallery walls giving a coarse rough temporary feel to the work. Tallying the works to the list isn’t easy as Laz hasn’t troubled the laser printer to produce labels, a sure sign of pretentiousness rather than lazy arsed-ness
All told there are 13 large scale canvasses in the show, more pictures here. Superficially Mode2s work is based upon simple, self evident statements yet several pictures have a fine multi-layered symbolism giving cause for thought.
More Mode2 pics here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11928372@N04/sets/72157604389241715/
From Laz it’s a short weave to Elms Lester to view Phil Frost canvasses and pick up a signed copy of his book. And what a signature that is, a slow inky work of art in itself and cause of a long straggling queue. Gorgeous canvasses though with a sort of aboriginal repetition thing going on.
Following a recent run of luck in getting into off-limits areas, we managed a sneak via a small hatch into the back gallery at Elms to snap a few fascinating historic pieces of graffiti, though we did miss the alleged Banksy. Some pictures of this area are here: