Jai Redman

View Two Gallery, Mathew Street
4th May - 10th June 2006 (Thu and Fri 12-4pm, Sat 12-5pm, or by appointment)

Reviewed by Hana Leaper

Jai Redman’s politically aware art comes as a surprise and a rare treat. Work that rides the crest of the zeitgeist whilst possessing a certain beauty and - crucially - being intellectually accessible to the viewer without a ton load of background reading and the mandatory degrees in politics and the history of art that are often required to understand obscure modern art. Because if we’re honest, we’ll all have admit to having been crushed by arriving at a gallery and finding there are no signs explaining what it’s all about. And that sucks.

The exhibition consists of about twenty pieces, including painting, sculpture, bricolage and found objects. It is specifically untitled and so is only linked by the featured artist, and the themes of the work range from political protest to the psychology of shared memory.

In 'A Matter of Taste', the labels on a Marmite and a Vaseline jar are exchanged. 'History' is made of lead and dust, telling a tale of war and repetition in which the language of history is denatured and human identity is erased. ‘Escape for Men’ depicts the athletic figure of a male in three stages of hurling the Nike logo with the Calvin Klein ‘Escape for Men’ perfume logo behind him, cleverly linking the modern brand and the consumer it creates with the Ancient Greek etymology of the label name and sporting connotations. 'Potus' is a comment on colonialist and imperialist strategy, featuring the President of the United States, whose head has been replaced by a giant ham. The figure is posed with an American flag and a globe, yet the watch he wears is blank. 'St Catherine’s Hill' is possibly the most beautiful piece; a haunting photo-like landscape, the stark silhouettes of leafless trees frame a blurred full moon and evoke a disturbing yet simultaneously soothing reaction.

Angry, intense and thought provoking, this exhibition subtly (and not so subtly in the case of pieces like 'Land Rights Now'), confronts the viewer with questions about the mechanisms of history, power and capitalism.

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