Art Show Review

Conor Harrington: The Story Of Them And Us

HENI Gallery
1st floor
6-10 Lexington St,
London W1F 0LB

(press the buzzer!)

14th September — 13th October 2018

It’s art week in London, a bunch of clever and many not so clever arty people meet a bunch of artlessly rich people in large tents to exchange money, business cards and air kisses but if you’re reading this you probably don’t fall into either category. Artists from the world of graffiti and street art are increasingly smashing down the door and gatecrashing the party and if you are in London this week, have a break from the stark and snooty “yen, euros or dollars?” gallery cubicles and make your way to Conor Harrington’s show close by just off Soho.

Conor’s latest series of painting presents an almighty tussle, an epic struggle; it’s left versus right, it’s red versus blue, it’s socialist versus capitalist; it’s politics and it’s gory, it’s dirty and it’s beautiful, and you have a ringside seat.

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L-R The Blind Patriot (Red), Blind Patriots 2, Meditations Of A Royal Ringmaster, Blind Patriots 1, The Blind Patriot (Blue)

In the first room we have to our left the forces of red and to the right is the blue army but Man United versus Chelsea it ain’t. We have posturing, we have fine clothing, we have brogues that look like the butler just finished polishing them and there are flags.

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The Blind Patriot (Blue)

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The Blind Patriot (Blue), detail

Pick a favourite colour, red or blue? You can’t win though, either way someone is going to poke you in the eye and kick you in whatever passes for your genitalia for picking the wrong one.

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The Blind Patriot (Red)

This thunderous struggle takes place in a very formal, clinical and orderly space. The pristine surroundings blush at the violence erupting all around us, like a vicar trying to apologise to both sides when fisticuffs break out at the wedding party.

Codebreakers Trying To Crack The Kingdom
Codebreakers Trying To Crack The Kingdom

Let’s make no mistake this display has masculinity, testosterone and belligerence, aggression and knuckleheaded stupidity right through it. Rather like some of our politicians.

Meditations Of A Royal Ringmaster (detail)

It is entirely appropriate Conor is coming out fighting during what is known in the UK as party conference season, in real life news the forces of blue on right are tearing themselves apart over very stupid ideas. Meanwhile the red party beat themselves up caught between a vaguely sensible proposition supported by some of the party but opposed by the other half of the party who feel it’s not commie enough and so prefer the same outcome the nasty wing of the blue party wants. The enemy of my enemy is still my fucking enemy, so there is no negotiation in these canvasses, you get smacked right in the face.

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Meditations Of A Royal Ringmaster

Conor’s colour palate is exuberant and dramatically romantic, lush passionate colours are applied with bold sweeping gestures;

Confessions Of The Self Saboteurs

In some places there is regal solidity while in others there is a complete breakdown as energy flows through the participants in the drama.

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Blind Patriots 2

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Blind Patriots 2 (detail)

Battle is joined with the protagonists flailing at eachother using their flags, like a bar brawl in a matador camp.

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The Hunter And The Haunted

Conor’s art schooling began with graffiti writing before a period in formal art school, not much remains in the way of graffiti stylings but those amazing specimens of Conor’s street art are reflected in the drips and splatters of spray paint in many of the works.

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L-R Confessions Of The Self Sabateurs, A Holding Pattern And Dark Disco, Codebreakers Trying To Crack The Kingdom

In a lovely video by Andrew Telling Conor discusses his tools, techniques and the thinking behind the subject matter.

The Story of Us and Them – Conor Harrington from Andrew Telling on Vimeo.

It is a week of madness and indulgence and money this week in London. Admission to Conor’s show is free!


Conor Harrington website

Conor Harrington Instagram

 All photos: Dave Stuart

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