The breakthrough exhibition, 'The British Art Show' in1990, brought together emerging artists who were to manifest into the phenomenon now referred to as the Young British Artist. From this show, John Mitchell, along with the likes of Ian Davenport, Grenville Davey, Gary Hume, Julian Opie, Cornelia Parker & Rachel Whiteread (amongst others), exhibited a radical testing of artistic boundaries, employing un-traditional materials, eschewing the 'use value' of objects and irreverently questioning the notion of the art object in our internet, post-industrial age. The recent work by John Mitchell develops these earlier themes of collecting, selecting, and 'salvaging' high and low art materials to open up fissures of new meanings and interpretations.
'Taxonomical Musings' (upper gallery) indicates an interest beyond materials, Mitchell appropriates and manipulates second-hand objects and figurines into groups. These groups are in turn presented as possible categories, families or genres when infact they are randomly assembled and edited by type or simply form. In doing so their previous histories adopt surrogate values and new implications. The context of these groupings, by taking so called 'low' art objects which have collectability in their own right, and suggesting they have new value in a 'high art' setting, challenges the boundary of acceptable practise. Transforming original functions of materials and language has the potential to subvert accepted understandings, interpretations and associations. A duplicitous game emerges. Do common objects with their redundant original usage become elevated by re-contextualising and placement; do they have new value, new meaning, a new beauty ?