From the 2 November to the 21 December, Pace London is host to Keith Coventry’s Junk Paintings.

Coventry’s art uses eye-catching shapes with little colour and tonal variation. It is simple and powerful, hence its use in advertisement. His style has ties to Modernism, Minimalism and Pop Art. It is also somewhat reminiscent of Russian Constructivist art: art from communist Russia around the time of the Cold War. The strong, rigid, two dimensional shapes work together, as if spelling a word on the canvas and, of course, much art of this genre translates into language in people’s minds. Coventry is fascinated by the McDonald’s logo, for example, and ten new paintings of his, exhibited in the gallery, study the famous logo: various fragments, angles, interpretations and takes of the logo are on display.

In Coventry’s book Black Bronze, White Slaves, he writes that “as with most of my work it just comes from seeing things that are on the street or in soul impoverished environments”. Coventry references Modernist philosophy and ideals, in particular, he draws upon mass-consumerism. In Junk Paintings, Coventry explains “junk can refer to junk food but it is also a derogatory term for the consumers of cheap food… these paintings prompt us to consider how modernity has shifted from a revolutionary dream of social transformation through creativity, to a dystopian reality of cultural impoverishment and environmental destruction through mass consumerism”.

…advertisements and the materialist mind-set it exacerbates…

Philosophically speaking, mass consumerism and its links with art are nothing new. Epicurus was familiar with advertisements and the materialist mind-set it exacerbates: Modernism aimed to reshape the world but its base elements are nothing new. As the press release informs us, “the gulf between belief and reality stimulates a series of troubling undercurrents in his work”. Coventry believed that while many may not see themselves, or like to see themselves, as reflections of a society based upon unhealthy philosophical practices, they are brainwashed by Modernist thinking.

While it is not immediately clear how Coventry achieves this critical unveiling of modernity, I was struck in this exhibition by a sense of gnomon; it felt as though something was missing and the paintings were incomplete. I suppose this feeling was born from the art being parts, or seemingly parts, of the McDonald’s logo, however, it had the result of me wondering what I was not seeing.

…I would thoroughly recommend going…

I left the exhibition having really thought which, in my opinion, is when art has truly achieved and I would thoroughly recommend going to see it.

You can find out more at Pace London’s website.

About The Author

I am currently completing a degree in philosophy at Oxford Brookes and pursuing a career in publishing. I love writing and particularly enjoy writing poetry, song lyrics and reviews.

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