Last of the Urgents

18 Nov 2007 – 16 Dec 2007

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Birmingham, United Kingdom

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Nikolas Arvanitis, Simon Bedwell, GL Brierley, Ryan McClelland, Jo Mitchell.
Text commission by Mark Hutchinson.

We usually choose the title of the show from a song which may directly or indirectly reference the theme of the exhibition. At moments this can cross over and add layers of meaning and reference to the exhibition which otherwise a title may not lend itself to. However with 'Last of the Urgents' we were left struggling, not for the first time, as to what to call the exhibition. We commission a text for every exhibition, which may or may not be related to the theme of the show, and usually the exhibition is pretty well set by the time this text comes in. However this time we had the text by Mark Hutchinson well in advance of the exhibition. Mark's text left us reeling: here was a text which suggested that we were involved in a culture of comfort and needed to realise that art was indeed dead. It no longer existed. Well what to do now: a hazy notion to put on an exhibition of fantastical 2d work left us in disarray, and we scrapped any ideas heretofore considered in an attempt to take on board Mark's text.

'Last of the Urgents' could be arts last gasp, or rather, it engages with artists who are more than aware of the cultural corner art has backed itself in to, and are making and referring to work with both an eye to the past and an eye to wider aspects of the dissemination of culture.

Simon Bedwell's posters take the trash of commercial advertising off the streets and twist meaning and good taste in an art historical context. Placing Britney and curators in the same hotbed of cultural enterprise, Bedwell negates one with the other. Ryan McClelland uses traditional, large scale woodblock prints, reminiscent of some outmoded, medieval craft, to present everyday, low-culture scenes ' kids fuck a girl in an alleyway and record it on their mobile phones, to appear on YouTube later, no doubt, and in the process, McClelland crosses the boundary between art history and the everyday. Jo Mitchell takes hotrod car patterns, punk colours, and musical references and paints patterns across the gallery wall ' for Colony she has painted the gallery walls, upon which the rest of the exhibition has been hung. Nikolas Arvanitis' delicate Muse drawings are tiny, erotic and occasionally malevolent works, and you have craned your neck in to see them before its too late to undo what you have seen, a swirling fuzz of Beardsley-esque fantasies and nightmares. GL Brierley's sublime paintings are the work of abstraction, fantasy, beauty and the repetition of mistakes, a knowing acknowledgment of the stuff of paint and all its ironies.

The gallery leaflet features a commissioned text by Mark Hutchinson.
Available free from November 17 at the gallery or upon request.


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