The Underclass, Underculture  & History From Below

Art Reviews

Duggie Fields At The Modern Institute. 2018.

As part of the Glasgow International, the Modern Institute on Osborne Street is currently displaying work by eccentric Pop artist and fashion icon, Duggie Fields. In his 70s, Fields is still as prolific as ever, colliding influences from across the whole cultural landscape, from classical to contemporary, in his painting, photography; and more recently, music.

I'll be honest and say that before I saw this exhibition, Duggie Fields' work wasn't what I'd expect to see in a contemporary gallery like the Modern Institute, purely based on what I've seen there in the past. Too tacky and kitsch for a gallery known for helping promote the neo-conceptualism that rose to prominence in the nineties along with the 'Glasgow Miracle' fanfare. Nonetheless, and although cynical, and the fact I wasn't the biggest fan of his work, I find him more interesting than the work he produces (similar feelings I have towards Andy Warhol). I was intrigued by the set up which was a re-imagining of Fields' living and working environment. Self-described as post-Pop figuration, his large paintings and murals amass the walls or sit on easels in the re-imagined rooms of his abode, with sickly colours of luminous yellow, pink, orange and green referencing classical and popular culture with subtle and not so subtle references to art history icons Joan Miro, Salvador Dali and Piet Mondrian; with the floor splattered ever so slightly in the style of Jackson Pollock. Looking at the paintings of figures outlined in bold black, some with hacked off heads, others with severed limbs, which easily suggest the Venus de Milo and Greek sculpture. There are also some figures in a subtle homo-erotic manner, which made me think of Soho London's bohemian culture, which I'm sure Fields would have been familiar with, not to mention a nod to Francis Bacon paintings. There is a large portrait of some 60s icon, but the literature provided doesn't make clear who this is, neither were there labels to give any indication, as far as I could see anyway. Contemporaries, Patrick Caulfield and Michael Craig Martin came to mind when viewing these paintings particularly the placement and juxtaposition of objects, but with the brightness dial turned down. Fields' own iconic self appears throughout the installation in various forms, in particular a slightly less than life size cardboard cut-out in blue suit with a hands behind back stance, almost as if he is observing your every move. This is evident on Fields' bed at the very centre of the installation, scattered with several cushions, one of which his face adorns with the words 'SO COOL' over the top, the double O placed as if a pair of spectacles Elton John would wear. The bed also has a rather fitting leopard print cover, and above hangs what looks like a Giorgio de Chirico influenced painting of a woman's torso. There's a kind of three way connection here as de Chirico himself was heavily influenced by Greek sculpture as is evident in his surrealist paintings. Fields' bathroom also has his signature portrait as well as some abstract expressionist technique on the wall that isn't Jackson Pollock. It seems every aspect of this installation has been considered right down to the lips cushion, reminiscent of Dali's Mae West lips sofa, and is something of an indulgent aesthetic overload throughout. There is no work and life separation, Fields' every waking (and sleeping) hour is an artwork. He eats, drinks and sleeps art. Technology has been an important factor in Fields' work, allowing him to sample and re-use previous imagery, updating it through the use of animation and film via the virtual world. The re-imagining of his domestic environment mirrors his own practice of shameless and honest reappropriation, and borrowing from art history and culture, which you can't fault since originality is a myth.

You'd be forgiven for thinking this work produced was an after effect of 60s acid-tripping. A time when Fields' started to paint in this saturated way while sharing a flat with Pink Floyd co-founder, Syd Barrett, who was known for his regular acid-trips, but the drug scene didn't seem to interest Fields all that much. Fashion and Pop culture interested him more and are still massive factors in his everyday life, as you can tell from his coiffured hair with Superman curl, and his colourful dress sense.

Exhibition on until 26/05/2018


Nobodaddy – An Exhibition By Mark Leckey 2018.

As part of the Glasgow International, the Tramway in Glasgow's southside has an installation by 2008 Turner Prize winner, Mark Leckey titled 'Nobodaddy'. A nod to William Blake's poem of the same name. A name Blake used as a play on the idea of God being the father of no one, but also the man with no body.

The exhibition consists of both an enlarged wooden figurine of Job and a large video projection which sit opposite each other. It's an intimidating but interesting experience when you venture into a darkened room in a gallery, you're kind of on edge in case you're going to trip over, or stand on something, that's part of the work - this is how I felt entering Leckey's exhibition. Job is situated in the centre of the room with the video projecting some footage of the figurine placed in different situations and environments, which flickers off the sculpture highlighting what looks like lesions, sores and flayed skin covering the body, reminiscent of Dennis Potter's classic 'The Singing Detective'. whose protagonist suffers head to toe from the debilitating disease psoriatic arthritis. Medieval plague victims and lepers also came to mind; a proper grotesque fest. Something that wouldn't look out of place in a Goya painting. The original wooden figurine of Job made in the 18th century portrays Satan's infliction of boils upon Job's whole body as a test to his belief, an all too familiar sight for centuries due to untreatable diseases being rife. Job's body is expanded and infiltrated by technology. Almost telling of today's society with more mobile phones than people, phones welded to people's hands, and social media more preferable than verbal communication. Hollowed out limbs, organs removed and filled with speakers which give voice to his state, like a modern day automaton.

Part of the video projection showed what looked like an exploration of the inside of Job and projected out from Job, who is sat like the Thinker, was Leckey's voice distorted in various ways asking “would you like to be immortal?”, another telling factor of today where prolonging life as much as possible is a massive industry, and health & fitness is a main past time activity for a lot of people. Obsessing over extending their life rather than living it. In amongst what could pass for experimental music, words and terms such as 'IBS' (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) were heard in distorted fashion bringing to mind Rabelaisian discriptions of the body through eating, shitting and sex.