Eggspace, Egg Café, Newington Street (12th July – 5th August 2007)
Simon Mack, Barry Han, Nick Jones, Alex Nicholson

Reviewed by Hana Leaper

This is a nicely brought together selection of urban, contemporary art in a range of media, which is loosely connected by shared threads of sensibility and subject matter relating to 'popular' culture.

The largest canvases of the group belong to Simon Mack. They're arranged in a striking series inspired by and relating to Mack's tenancy in Soho, and evoke edgy city culture. Ready-made objects including tags from high street shops, labels from shoes, police tape and crushed cans add layers and give texture to background colours in a palate of blues, greys and silvers. By collaging objects conventionally thrown away as refuse, Mack is asking us to look at the aesthetic pleasure and consumerist desirability found in the technology of the post-modern era – along with the unnecessary waste generated by unethical consumption. The temporary pleasure of obtaining your £3.99 high street bargain is underwritten by the much costlier, hidden mechanisms of cheap labour, environmental destruction and the compulsory obsolescence of objects manufactured by an industry that would collapse itself by producing items of lasting utility. Love, that complex notion of human-ness residing at the core of our condition, is questioned in this context, particularly in the piece 'beware/neon/love'. In an all-encompassing cycle of consumption, can the heart withstand the demands of our constantly demanding, fast-paced, 'use once and destroy' mind-set?

Nick Jones produces pleasingly quirky prints of familiar images, usually given some kind of alt-culture twist. For example, Miss Kitty – synonymous image of cute, yet knowing, Japanese school girl kitsch – wears a skull and cross bones t-shirt. In one image Darth Vader's head is superimposed upon her shoulders, marrying in a darkly humorous fashion the superficially cutesy world of cartoon/manga with a potent metaphor for how twisted and destructive once venerable human feeling and potential can become. These are perhaps the kind of references Andy Warhol would've been using had he been working in 2007, contemporary fairytale images with dark undertones of mass-reproduction, violence and loss of control.

Alex Nicholson's photographs feature skaters in city centres, and the most striking of Barry Han's photographs are zoomed-in and blown up natural patterns, framed as abstracts.

Most of the pieces on display combine being instantly readable and recognisable with high standards of artistic skill and quality of finish – a combination which sometimes fails to materialise, especially when – as in the case of Simon Mack's work, collage techniques using everyday objects are used.

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Comment left by simon mack on 26th September, 2007 at 10:05
well better late than never i suppose... just to say thks to hana for the perceptive review + to Jazamin+Karen at the Egg for putting on the looked more than fine. rgds,simon m

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