FIONA BANNER – “SNOOPY VS THE RED BARON”
Snoopy is the star character in Charles M.Schulz’s comic strip, Peanuts. As well as being a pet beagle and an aspiring novelist, Snoopy is a World War I flying ace. In this latter incarnation he wants to both become the Red Baron, and kill him. The Baron however, exists only in his mind: a heroicised representation of fear. In The complete text of Snoopy’s Novel the image of Snoopy appears in the centre of The Baron’s Family crest. Behind this is the absurd, hubristic text of Snoopy’s novel.
The title of this series references the 1966 pop hit Snoopy Vs The Red Baron. Shortly after The Baron first appeared in Schultz’s cartoon, the Florida based band The Royal Guardsmen, released their song and Snoopy’s owners promptly sued. In 2012 banner staged a performance of Snoopy Vs The Red Baron in The Welsh Chapel, London.
In this work the image and words are somehow defiled. They allude to the acts of unmaking and destruction, as much as the creative act, examining how we mythologize ourselves and our histories and how we are seduced by the myths of our own creation. Banner references the combative relations not only between Snoopy and his nemeses, but also the heavy handed copyright issues surrounding creative ownership.
TOM GIDLEY – “THREE MASKS”
This print is based on one of a series of works on paper made with watercolour inks. They were partly inspired by Rorschach tests, the ink allowed to flow and settle once applied. This one is of three masks, or heads. They float in space, interlinked, their extremely long noses pointing in different directions. They remind me of a speech or thought bubble. They might seem grotesque, sad, or happy. One of them is winking, or maybe squinting. Perhaps it all depends on your feelings about extremely long noses.
His paintings could be described as ‘psychological portraiture’, teetering between figuration and abstraction. The subject often appears to be conflicted or resistant to being represented and viewed – something is always held back, deleted. Backgrounds blend with limbs, faces are altered or erased altogether. Gender is frequently unclear, and beneath the surface tranquility, there is contained chaos. Working in intense and unusual colour combinations, Gidley has said that: “The relationship of colours in my work are ‘unnatural’ just as my subjects appear in relation to or against their backgrounds, because all representation is an act of violence and dislocation, to some degree. The fragile nature of identity is central to my art and my writing.”
MICHAEL LANDY – “FILL MY BIN”
Landy studied at Goldsmiths in London, having been inspired to take up art professionally after having a picture selected for display on the BBC television art program Take Hart. After graduating in 1988, he was part of the YBA generation that created the Freeze exhibition.
Landy’s first solo exhibition was Market (1990), an installation comprising of numerous empty market stalls. Like much of his later work it was intended as a comment on consumerism and society. In 1995 Landy created “Scrapheap Services” a fictitious cleaning company which sought to change society by way of “a minority of people being discarded”. Promotional videos were made for the company and a large number of cut-out men were swept up and destroyed.
On 29 May 2008, Landy was elected a member of the Royal Academy of Arts in London. His Art Bin installation for the South London Gallery, which was described by the artist as ‘a monument to creative failure’. A large transparent skip was installed at the gallery, into which he invited the public to throw art work with which they were dissatisfied….
RACHEL WHITEREAD – “LLANSTEFFAN STAIRWAY”
This is a photograph of a concrete staircase on Llansteffan Beach in South Wales in 2012. Rachel has worked with staircases for many years, taking photographs, moulding and casting, culminating in large sculptural forms.
Whiteread is one of Britain’s leading contemporary sculptors. Born in London in 1963, she studied painting at Brighton Polytechnic from 1982–85 and sculpture at the Slade School of Fine Art from 1985–87. She shot to public attention in 1993 with her sculpture, “House,” a life-sized replica of the interior of a condemned terraced house in London’s East End which provoked intense public debate until it was eventually demolished in 1994. She won the Turner Prize in 1993.
Over the last decade she has developed a significant international reputation, creating major public works in both Europe and the United States. Her winning proposal for the Holocaust memorial at the Judenplatz in Vienna was one of the most prestigious sculptural commissions in Europe in the 1990s. This piece involved placing the cast interior of a library, including imprints from the books on their shelves, into the centre of the square. It was unveiled in October 2000. She represented the UK at the 1997 Venice Biennale and created “Monument” for the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square in 2001.