Exhibition

Keith Coventry - Painting & Sculpture

10 Dec 2008 – 31 Jan 2009

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Haunch of Venison is delighted to announce the first of two exhibitions presenting major works by the acclaimed British artist, Keith Coventry (born 1958). Coventry is known for his paintings and sculptures which manipulate the legacies of Modernism in order to address the conditions of contemporary urban life. Many of the art historical references that Coventry deploys are defined by the utopian a ideals of Modernism. Coventry plays with these beliefs and shows them to be misconceived; the gulf between belief and reality stimulating yet a series of powerful and troubling undercurrents in his work. 'Painting and Sculptures Part I: Early Groups' will present work made in the decade following Coventryà‚'s first solo exhibition in 1992. Including important works such as his 'White Abstracts', 'Estate Paintings', 'History Paintings', and 'Supermodels', the 'Junk' series and a selection of sculptures, the exhibition will demonstrate the extraordinary breadth and consistency of Coventry's oeuvre. Coventry's idiosyncratic and personal project to create a form of contemporary history painting encompasses an immense range of reference. His paintings and sculptures pit art history - Malevich, Rodchenko, Dufy, Morandi, Moore, and Sickert, International Modernism, Minimalism and Pop Art - against images of heroism and idealism, but also decadence and aberrant behaviour. Coventry's subjects range from the racism of the football terraces to the commodity status of the artwork, from the perfection of a supermodel's face to the degradation of the crack den. This is a potent stew, in which the collision of subject, image and process creates complex and unsettling results. Coventry's signature works are perhaps his ongoing series of 'White Abstracts' and 'Estate Paintings', which together encapsulate his approach to history, culture and society. The former series takes archetypal scenes of British society - Horseguards, cucumber sandwiches and the Royal Family - and renders them as white monochromes, as if they have been drained of potency and symbolic value. Their thickly worked surfaces and hidden imagery are in themselves a riposte to the supposed purity of the high Modernist monochrome. Coventry's 'Estate Paintings' take as a starting point the maps commonly found at the entrance to housing estates. The maps as re-presented as precise geometric images reminiscent of Kasimir Malevich's Suprematist paintings, thus pointing to the gulf between the idealism of Modernist abstraction and its legacies, including the grim reality of inner city housing estates.

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