Sunday, May 28, 2006

LATEST ART/SubScreenSonic

'Latest Art' is a new production from the South Coast that deserves a wide viewing - a no-nonsense gallery showcase of diverse work with some genuinely interesting articles. Refreshingly free from twee polemic or academe, I can see this catching on in a big way. Available FREE in London and the South-East.

Most interesting piece for me in this first issue was the article 'On the Wall' by Jeff Hemmings, linked to 'SubscreenSonic', a new exhibition of concert and gig posters at the Basement in Brighton. It asks the big question as to whether this show can whet the appetite of promoters, venue managers and artists and reignite the passion for gig posters that existed in the 1960s and 1970s.

I have been pondering this issue for some time, having spent five years cataloguing Felix Dennis' OZ Archives, studying in particular and in detail the history of such posters - an explosion of graphic art that hadn't been seen since Art Nouveau at the turn of the 20th century (and very influenced by that style, incidentally).

This was further reinforced by purchasing 'Art of Modern Rock' by Paul Grushkin & Dennis King [Chronicle Books], the sequel to 'The Art of Rock' documenting the earlier period, an eye-popping collection of more than 1,800 extraordinary posters produced in the last 25 years. Responding to the demise of the LP in the mid 1980s (with its superb tradition of album cover art), the rock poster rushed in to fill the void and swiftly boosted a growing independent/ alternative music scene. The book is stunning and overwhelming. The new artists are using old fashioned letterpress and silkscreen alongside digital technology with extraordinary results. There is work here from 375 international artists and studios. I don't believe that I had seen a single one of these posters in any magazine in the UK. Why is that ? Open any double page in this giant book and you're presented with an array of startling images in every graphic style under the sun. I have yet to show this book to anyone who is not startled and overwhemed. The work stands comparison with the very best of the hippy posters of the past. Why is this not happening in the UK ? Or is it about to happen? I shall be investigating further. In fact, I've decided to head down this afternoon. Will report back as discovered the show finishes tomorrow.

As it turns out Sub Screen Sonic was fab, an impressive showcase of work by 33 artists and studios - all American except for one English guy (Nick Rhodes from Manchester) and an Italian. The organisers told me they'd had large numbers of visitors during the week and one can only hope that more such shows follow in the UK and that we see more silkscreen/letterpress work happening in the UK.

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