Keith Coventry‘s latest exhibition at the Pace Gallery in London, ‘White Black Gold,’ will be on view at the ground floor galleries of 6 Burlington Gardens until 28 May 2016.
The artist archly monumentalises the bleak debris of our cultural landscape with an exhibition which ‘ennobles the ignoble’.
McDonalds ‘Golden Arches’ are now a well-worn emblem of late capitalism, so programmed into the popular imagination, that Coventry need only depict a colorless fragment of the golden ‘M’ for his audience to be bombarded with a litany of red, yellow and white memories – of bombastic adverts, Happy Meals and any host of relatable motifs that have come to represent 20th Century American capitalism.
Coventry collects the detritus of our cultural landscape, in the form of litter, both literal and cultural; ‘I had a studio in Camberwell […] There’s a McDonald’s on the high street and the greatest accumulation of litter was always around a McDonald’s: […]. I just collected them, and used them as these kinds of ready-mades’.
Coventry strives to find depth in the well-worn iconography of modernism. In this exhibition, he explores the very depthless-ness and artistic bankruptcy of modern logos, and finds an almost comic bleakness. This is embodied by his centerpiece; Destroyed Shop Window (2016), a bronze cast of a bombed shop front. It is both a fitting reminder of the impermanence of capitalism’s cultural investment, and an almost burlesque embodiment of the cultural threat terrorism poses to this investment.
Coventry grips onto the shallowness of these images, creating a purchase within the cultural void for a much stronger message – a message more guttural and succinct.
The masterstroke at work here is Coventry’s ability to transform the space of the Pace Gallery entirely. Upon entering the exhibition, we feel the space metamorphose from an objective and passive canvas, optimistic and fertile – to a chillingly sterile wasteland. He creates within the gallery space, a microcosm of the macrocosm we all fear – a life void of originality and an increasingly sterilized and homogenous cultural landscape.
Though in this duality lies Coventry’s sleight of hand. Yet again he has taken the well-trodden features of modern life, and re-cast them into elegant and powerful monuments to modernity. He challenges the viewer to find beauty everywhere, and proves himself to be the undefeated master of the mundane.
– Lucy Ambler
Keith Coventry ‘White Black and Gold’ is on view at Pace gallery until 28 May, 2016; 6 Burlington Gardens, London, W1S 3 ET; Open Tuesday – Saturday 10AM – 6PM; Admission: FREE