We are excited to announce not one new flyingleaps artists’ poster print but three!
Toxic People (2019) Magda Archer
First up, Magda Archer’s ‘Toxic People’ (2019). Hot on the heels of her extremely popular Problems With Modern Life exhibition at Firstsite Gallery, Colchester another of the artist’s arch and appealing works gets the flyingleaps treatment.
The profound disquiet, wavering sense of purpose and erosion of constructive potential bought on by rampant consumerism, social media saturation and political toxicity is Archer’s stock-in-trade here. Her imagery may be cutesy, colourful, blithely sketched but the anguish and concern is fervent. Oh Fuck! FUCK! What’s to become of us? What are we to do?
The artist’s solution, to just ‘Stay Away From Toxic People’ perhaps offers one answer. Though that’s no easy feat. While the pink faced puppy might be a shaggy enticement to smile, ‘Toxic People’ rendered in a horror flick font warns otherwise. It’s a classic Archer tactic, draw the viewer in with a stroke of kitsch delight but all the while a critical stiletto is being eased deep into our conscious.
Populism (2019) Mark Fishlock
Tim Fishlock (FKA Oddly Head) has delivered another deceptively economic grey grape block colour beauty in Populism (2019). The capitalised white text with its black shadow, in a way, couldn’t be more accurately prosaic. Populism is ‘all the rage’, i.e., ‘very popular at this time’! There’s no denying it. Simples.
Then you read it again. Populism cynically fosters, harnesses, exacerbates, multiplies and poisons the body politic. It propagates that loud, wilfully ignorant mode: shout-spitting-in-the-face of those who hold different, more nuanced, perhaps more informed viewpoints.
All the RAGE – in terms of race, class, sexual orientation… you name it – we’ve witnessed these last few years, in the UK especially since the onslaught of Brexit, seems to ride shotgun with the propagation in the MSM, on political platforms, in the streets of a populist mentality. Not just an acceptance of the rise of populism but a desperate hankering (or is that hiding behind?).
Hang on though, questioning elites and power doesn’t need to translate as pandering to the meanest, self-serving, closed viewpoints. That conception of the ‘ordinary’ person is both reductive, damaging and hugely patronising. And it’s a con. Think on that while you meditate upon, sup in with your eyes and mind this latest offering from Fishlock.
Cyprus Realism (Grape 6) (2019)
Lastly (but never least) Mustafa Hulusi has released another of his sublime artworks. Cyprus Realism (Grape 6) (2019) began life as a stunningly luminous photograph of a pendulous bunch of ripe, sunlit grapes. Here its reproduction as a painting might at first strike viewers as an Edenic gesture, a diversion from the harsh realities of an occupied territory.
It may be also be read as mischievous in its unabashed celebration of an eighteenth-century mode of representation – Watteau, Chardin, Fragonard – but it’s not a cynical gesture. Far from it. Hulusi seeks rather to reconnect us with the wonder of nature beyond or before language. Warmth, sunlight, bounty all experienced as a burst of promise, so close at hand and yet – in ‘Ceci N’est Pas A Bunch Of Grapes’ fashion – ungraspable.
The work seems to beg the question, are we are letting this gift – symbol of charity, abundance and altruism – rot on the vine? The short answer is, ‘Yes’. Further to the vagaries of warring factions, human activity poses an even more devastating threat. The climate crisis has caused extreme weather phenomena, summer temperatures are rapidly increasing, soil fertility is kaput to the extent that wine production may be decimated in coming years. At the moment, Hulusi’s work might remind us to celebrate, to cherish earth’s cornucopia. Before long, however, it may prove to be a relic of an age forever lost.
Dr. D aka Subvertiser
While the debate goes on as to whether flyposted and other oppositional art or visual activism has any direct effect in bringing about sociopolitical change, what it can do at its best is feed into the publics’ disposition.
Through strong imagery, cogent or quizzical text, humour, relatively speedy production and distribution, via its capacity to occupy anomalous spaces in the urban environment and through an imaginative, enacted engagement with matters of concern it can generate social media interest and help inform, even propel, opinion.
Dr. D’s targets include surveillance culture; the social effects of neoliberalism; commodification; mealy-mouthed and uncaring politicians; abuses of power in the media… Much more than bald sloganeering Dr. D’s imagery and text pieces often emerge, on reflection, as enigmatic meditations on twenty-first century existential angst.
Transgressing boundaries can reveal hidden rules. One could cite the precedents of the carnivalesque ‘telling truth to power’, vaudevillian comedy, Dada gestures in art but all of these, in a – it’s only a bunch of pucks/entertainers/artists – sense, operated in ‘sanctioned’ arenas. Dr. D’s contributions to the urban environment are rarely sanctioned and it’s this that contributes significantly to their traction and incisiveness.
The urban spectacle would have us believe that its over-riding character is, yes aspirational, but emphatically neutral and apolitical: that generally we’re going to be just fine if we carry on pretty much as we are. Dr. D’s pithy interventions, highlighting so many germane issues and employing such a variety of modes of address, repeatedly suggest otherwise.