Castlefield Gallery presents Radical Conservatism, curated by Pil and Galia Kollectiv. The exhibition will include works by Chris Evans (London); IRWIN group, founded in Ljubljana (Slovenia); Joseph Lewis (London); Patrick Moran editor of the metal fanzine Buried (London); Oscar Nemon (b. 1906 Osijek, Croatia d. 1985 Oxford, UK); Pil and Galia Kollectiv (London) and Public Movement (Israel).
In 1938, Yugoslav sculptor Oscar Nemon arrived in Britain, having fled the Nazi invasion of Brussels, where he was living with René Magritte. He was part of the European avant-garde and came to the UK as a refugee. Shortly thereafter, Nemon proposed a bold architectural plan to construct a temple of universal ethics in London and was in correspondence over this with central figures in Britain. After the war, he became known for his portrayal of figures like Churchill, culminating in a bust of Margaret Thatcher that is currently at the Tory HQ.
Radical Conservatism explores the space between these two moments and asks whether these two terms are really antithetical. In the British context in particular, where the European avant-garde never really took hold, a kind of reactionary modernism has always defined a culture wary of revolution. But today more than ever, with the left increasingly holding on to the past of the welfare state as an ideal, and the right quietly revolutionising our world through neoliberal reforms, the paradigms of radicalism and conservatism need to be redefined. Can conservatism be seen as a radical position in itself? If art is defined by a movement towards the new - could 'holding on to the past' stubbornly be seen as a critical position, now that neo-liberalism has forced a far more radical shift in politics than the left has managed in a long time?