Films such as Blue Velvet and American Beauty suggest that if we scrutinize the world more closely, probing into its darker recesses, we’ll find a reality hidden from public view, where every violent, sadistic, and transgressive impulse runs rampant. The white picket fences, manicured front lawns and thorn-trimmed rose bushes are simply fronts for our nefarious desires. In Paul McCarthy’s world, this trope is taken further. Everything in this world – reality, fantasy, thoughts, actions, good, and evil – is one and the same. He is the art world’s foremost materialist, the leveler of perceived boundaries. Every component of his work is thrust forward into one sharp relief; sadism, Disney, torture, ketchup, excess, baking, and mutilation. McCarthy’s belief is that when cross-examined in particular ways, all these elements are equatable. Continue reading
Many gallery exhibitions are just too neat. The frames are lavish, the wall tags faultless, the press releases perfectly stacked. You suspect that the show’s priorities are out of whack. Too often the ambition for museological perfection results in a staid, mausoleum of a show. Trailer Obscura is exactly the opposite. The show is declaratively rough and tumble, and thus true to the ethos of artistic experimentation. Continue reading
Richard Phillips’ Most Wanted, previously on view at the White Cube in Hoxton, masquerades as a critique of consumer culture when in fact it is entirely subsumed by it. It presents itself as an interrogation of our desires but ultimately has nothing of value to say because it is bound to the very culture it critiques.