The installation is composed of seven bricks placed on the ground, without any particular arrangement. These bricks come from the “Brush Brothers Brick Company”, created in Buffalo (New York, USA) in the middle of the 19th century.
On each of them, the word “BRUSH” – sometimes misspelled – was stamped in this manufacture that employed many immigrants.
Like the workers who worked there, these objects are anonymous. However, as time progressively changes their shape and color, the bricks gain a certain individuality. Thus, they seem to be a nod to Ad Reinhardt’s 12 Rules for Pure Art (1957): ‘no forms, no design, no colors…’. Jacob Kassay’s playful use of the word ‘brush’ cleverly alludes to the act of painting.
Visit of the showroom only by appointment.
Jeremy Deller – Printed Matters
Perhaps the most salient thing you need to know about the artist Jeremy Deller is that he neither trained nor studied to be an artist. This is important, as it inducts Deller within a history of so-called “self-taught” artists: a canon of individuals who arrived at making art, or something that resembles art, via other means, via other routes. Eschewing art school, Deller instead studied art history, initially within the formal environs of London’s Courtauld Institute, where he specialized in the southern-European Baroque; and then later at the University of Sussex, where he studied with David Mellor (Mellor’s Wikipedia entry notably identifies only Deller as being a former student of his).
At Sussex, Deller’s interests expanded to embrace a broader and more porous understanding of the role that both art and the artist might play within society. Informed and influenced by the prescient thinking of the pioneers of what came to be known as Cultural Studies – Raymond Williams, Richard Hoggart, Stuart Hall, et al – Deller’s subsequent work, over the next three decades both mirrors and amplifies their desire to understand culture “in all its complex forms”, whilst simultaneously analyzing “the social and political context in which culture manifests itself.”
Deller’s emergence as an artist was organic. He has described his 1986 encounter with Andy Warhol in London as being a watershed moment, “Meeting Andy Warhol was the most important thing that had happened to me in my life up to that point.” The two weeks that he subsequently spent in New York in Warhol’s orbit at The Factory “would prove to be the art education that I’d never had – the equivalent of taking a foundation course and BFA and MFA degrees in a fortnight.” From Warhol, Deller determined that “an artist can do whatever he or she wants. There are no limits.”
From the outset, the subject of Deller’s work has been a consideration of the recent past: an examination of how our shared social, cultural and political histories inform and shape both the present and the future – an approach that is evident in Deller’s key works such as: The History of The World and Acid Brass (both 1997); The Battle of Orgreave (2001); It Is What It Is (2009); and Everybody In The Place (2018), among others.
Many of Deller’s early works took the form of t-shirts, posters, bumper stickers, carrier bags, classified ads, business cards, public signage, and other forms of printed matter: quotidian, commonplace mediums that he continues to employ to this day. Circulating freely and outside of the established channels of the art world, Deller’s earliest interventions sought out instead a different public – passersby – and could, in the words of curator Ralph Rugoff, “be appreciated without any specialized knowledge.”
This fundamentally democratic impulse remains a defining characteristic of Deller’s work of the past thirty years, and is central to his public identity as an artist: since winning the Turner Prize in 2004 – which he dedicated to “… everyone who cycles, everyone who looks after wildlife, and the Quaker Movement …” – Deller has gradually become a public figure himself.
Throughout Deller’s work, which over the years has become increasingly collaborative, there is a palpable sense of generosity: a desire to frame often complex ideas in a manner that is at once legible and accessible, yet in a way that never condescends to nor patronizes the audience.
‘Warning Graphic Content’ is the first exhibition to survey Deller’s poster and print works produced between 1993 and 2021, an era of often unprecedented social, cultural, political, ecological and technological upheaval. Despite the exhibition’s focus on printed matter, the exhibition also serves as a retrospective and chronological account of Deller’s thinking, a visual manifestation of his ongoing – and shifting – interests and advocacy. Aligning the poetic with the polemical, Deller’s poster and billboard works have increasingly taken on a more urgent even political dimension: evident in his recent post-Brexit broadsides Thank God For Immigrants (2020), Welcome To The Shitshow (2019), Tax Avoidance Kills (2020) and the new classic: Cronyism Is English For Corruption (2021). Writing in 2012 on the occasion of Deller’s mid-career survey at London’s Hayward Gallery, curator Ralph Rugoff succinctly outlined Deller’s unique position:
“… Deller has worked to illuminate the underlying knots that tie us together – often in ways that defy our conventional understanding of society and our place within it. Ingeniously exploring the ways that culture is woven from webs of activity that cut across all social spheres and categories, his work has provided an indispensable alternative to contemporary art’s status quo, and an invaluable tonic for our capacity to re-imagine the ways we make sense of the world.” ¹
¹ Rugoff, R. ‘Middle Class Hero’, in Hall, Stuart ; Higgs, Matthew ; Rugoff, Ralph ; Young, Rob (ed.) ‘Jeremy Deller : Joy in People’, (Londres : Hayward Gallery Publishing, 2012), p. 20
List of available individual posters
Click on each image for more information
Listen to the interview of Jeremy Deller by DUUU Radio.
The artist presents the exhibition and the poster co-produced for the occasion by Art : Concept and *DUUU.
Yoga 1 and 2 is as a couple of small sculptures performing a yoga posture (asana) opening the rib cage towards the sky. Various possibilities of staging are added to the improbable meeting of yoga and pre-Columbian arts offered by the small colored shorts (removable “yoga pants”). These “statuettes” are characteristic of Grossmann’s taste for inaccuracy that allows him to bypass categories.
“If categories are essential to language and communication, I am constantly trying to dissolve them in my work. The paradox is that I need to refer to archetypes in order to disrupt them. I conceive the work as a tension. I never document myself or make preparatory sketches. Everything happens at the moment of réalisation with the accidents and wanderings that this induces…”
“What I have seen, understood or misunderstood, retained and forgotten is at stake when I create. By experimenting with these mechanisms of memory and intuition, I discover new forms or find others.” – Corentin Grossmann
These statuettes address, not without humor, the issue of nudity and the representation of genitalia in statuary. Here clearly detailed, the penis and vulva contrast with the anatomical approximation of the bodies. The possibility of hiding the sexes by means of small yoga pants, reinforces the paradox and introduces the crucial question of modesty, like an ultimate hesitation between the opening and the abandonment which the yogic posture evokes and the recall of often constraining societal standards.
Andrew Lewis drew ‘Points de vue’ in charcoal on paper, introducing characters with recurring attitudes in landscapes elaborated from well-known architectural typologies and monuments. His drawings were made from a book for children to learn how to draw buildings according to standard models. They represent a place that is both real and imaginary, where the architectures are isolated and even highlighted by all sorts of processes borrowed from the photographic shot. If the image, travel, photography, the tourist cliché and the postcard seem to be at the heart of the artist’s preoccupations, the strength of his drawings does not only come from that. Under their sometimes naive features, they create a system of scripted signs (solitudes, passages, wanderings) that are repeated like a kind of ritual, inducing a lack of communication or simply of exchange between people, which generally results in an enigmatic and uncomfortable situation for the viewer.
Text: Points de vues, Musée d’art contemporain de la Haute-Vienne/FR, March 6 – June 19 2005.
In this installation formed by a bed of dehydrated potato flakes mixed with food colouring, Michel Blazy encourages the creation of coloured cells by means of a drip fixed from the ceiling which brings out the colour of the material. Organised in the manner of a garden, these shapes thus drawn in relation to space evolve by suggesting a stroll, a path.
This aesthetic, born from organic, everyday products and cooking, is emblematic of Michel Blazy’s work. In an unconventional exploitation of the exhibition space – investing right up to the ceiling – the artist invites us to contemplate the floor, to admire the inconstancy of the evolving forms emanating from the material.
This cyclic work thus offers the spectator the opportunity to admire, at various moments of the exhibition, different states of the work which evolves according to a random and ephemeral play of colours revealed by time and the interaction of the materials and their environment.
Sacrilege, 2012 Mixed media Dimensions variable
Jeremy Deller defines himself as an “instigator of social interventions”: his works are often characterized by audience participation, his sculptures are social experiences in which performances, videos, and installations become places of exchange and aggregation. This was also the starting point for Sacrilege, originally created for the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art, and later displayed in London on the occasion of the 2012 Olympics. With funding from Arts Council England Sacrilege travelled to different locations in the UK before being shown in London as part of CREATE and the London 2012 festival.
With the sense of humour that characterizes many of his projects, Deller transforms the Stonehenge monument into a giant inflatable toy for children, reproducing it in plastic and turning it into a funfair attraction 35 meters in diameter; the public is thus called upon to interact with the installation, to climb onto it, and to jump and play within it.
The effect is at once celebratory and sacrilegious, as the title, chosen by the artist in order to deflate any possible criticism, would suggest. With its unabashedly playful approach, Sacrilege is an invitation to reappraise one’s history and one’s own national identity, but it also offers a sarcastic comment on how these themes are often trivialized and exploited by nationalist and populist political agendas – a subject that is unfortunately of our moment.
“Sacrilege is playful and cheeky. The title is a way is to ward off any criticism—some will think that it is just that, a sacrilege, so why not call it that? One intended outcome is laughter, perhaps a few tears, and certainly enjoyment, though not necessarily in that order. For me at least it is also a nod to what I would call the “freak out” tendency in UK culture: Hawkwind, Bruce Lacey, and Ken Russell being its best exponents.” Jeremy Deller, in Art Forum, April 20, 2012
This artwork is the result of a photographic montage between two texts, reunited by their common date of parution (1798). The montage is based on an insertion of the American ’Alien and Sedition Acts’ into Malthus’ famous Essay on the Principle of Population.
Malthus’ text is famous for putting, for the first time, natural resources (food) and population growth (in this case the poor) in relation for the first time.
The two interlocking texts, which play on the repetition of the motif of the textual block made illegible by the scale of the print (a film contact), are directly related only by their date, but their montage puts in tension two tendencies that are directly addressed to our time: a certain fear of the other as “impure”, withdrawal and the designation of a scapegoat, at the same time as the resurgence of solutions to reduce the world’s population as a salvation for humanity.
They are not interested in believing, right now they are interested in wanting to believe. Their goal is to be on the path to it, even if the path leads to nothing. They don’t know that the threat exists and will always have nothing to lose. They are beautiful and alive: Lasagna.
The tenant’s cans from when I was a kid, they keep me interested. And I do it because I believe, I suppose, that if I stick a chair leg in the can, and it disturbs me and says something, then it will say something to somebody else-to someone I dont even know. I dont really know what the feeling I’m trying to evoke is, but in this case it’s not a good feeling. Adam McEwen
The work Instrument was presented in the artist’s solo show « Non-Alignment Pact » at the gallery Art: Concept in 2014. This work, like Conduit, which was also presented in the exhibition shares a common mise en scène of a tortured yet absent body. Conduit, a steel pipe stuck in a desk chair, creates a vertical axis that we imagine penetrated the seated form. It’s reminiscent of a cinematographic image of an empalement, (Cannibal Holocaust) which left its trace of a generation of cinephiles.
Adam McEwen Conduit, 1997-2014, chair, steel pipe
We also find this relationship to cinema in Instrument, a work which plays at once with torture and desire. A chair is usually used for working at a desk or at a table. It’s what allows humans to think in a comfortable way. In this sculpture, Adam McEwen transforms it into a place of conflict, a place of doubt where demons troubling the concentration necessary to creation. The chair is at once trapped and a trap, it becomes a sort of castrating embrace.
Adam McEwen Instrument, 2014 (detail)
The artist often develops his works from found and sometimes historical pictorial material, as well as from well- known figures of mythology, history, theater, film and pop culture. Original quotes are deliberately reduced to extracts within a collage-like working method. Recontextualized in seemingly surreal contexts, this results in new associations and meanings. Several works are condensed within a stage-like installation, leading to a performative-pictorial narration.
Lothar Hempel’s sculpture Performance (2015) uses a famous image of Kathleen Neal Cleaver, the first female member of the Black Panthers, mixing materials, disciplines and references to popular culture. A contemporary heroine, she is one of the figures to whom the artist pays tribute for her commitments. But let’s listen to the genesis of the work by the artist…
I combined 2 images – Kathleen Cleaver, an activist and the wife of Eldridge Cleaver, one of the leaders of the Black Panthers, during a speech she held in Oakland in the late sixties and a photograph from Dave Gahan, lead singer of Depeche Mode in one of their first concerts in 1981.
Another element in the work is the sentence: “Delphi Dog Run”, which is a collage of words, the name of the greek oracle and the words in a series of paintings by Christopher Wool, executed in 1990.
There is a cut out shape in the middle of the sculpture, indicating a pregnancy and pointing into the forehead of Dave Gahan like a diagramm, showing the direction of a thought process or a more symbiotic relation (“Symbiosis” was in fact one of the working titles for the sculpture, before I finally settled with “Performance”). The motif of pregnancy, which I understand as a metaphor for give and take, is juxtaposed in opposition to the phallic presence of the microphone in Mr Gahan’s hand and the “real” microphone in front of the figure.
There are patterns like stains and scratches printed onto the chest and the boots of the figure that stem from photographs of abstract paintings that I took a while back in some Berlin gallery. Completely forgot which artist, but I used these patterns again and again in different works to bring a certain grit and texture on to the surface. These patterns seem to indicate a process like grinding, digging in and opening up, getting through the surface, cutting, perforation, penetration… it’s probably a desperate attempt to overcome the 2 dimensionality of the printed image and the need to turn it into something of volume, something “real”, to create a true opposite. The key around the neck seems to have a similar function – it also “opens up”.
Kathleen Neal Cleaver was born in Dallas, Texas, on May 13, 1945. Her parents were both activists and college graduates of the University of Michigan. Her father was a sociology professor at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, and her mother earned a master’s degree in mathematics. Three years after Cleaver was born, her father, Ernest Neal, accepted a job as the director of the Rural Life Council of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, and they moved to a predominantly black community beside the campus. Six years later, Ernest joined the Foreign Service. The family moved abroad and lived in such countries as India, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Philippines. Spending time in India exposed Kathleen to different beliefs, including socialism, communism, and nationalism. The family returned to the United States after her brother died from leukaemia and the family broke apart. Cleaver attended a Quaker boarding school near Philadelphia, George School, which had just been desegregated.
There is a “twin” piece to Performance, a 2018 sculpture called: “Ein Lied für 2 Stimmen” ( a song for 2 voices ), note the green key glued to the wall! It could be interesting to see the 2 works in their dialogue.