Steppin' Out With My Baby (My Donna)Past Modern – the Singh Twins

The Walker Art Gallery
22nd January - 17th April

Review by Colin Serjent

The Singh Twins are acknowledged as important art practitioners but I have to admit most of the their work in this exhibition at the Walker stirred little emotion within me.

I found some of their art banal – particularly the piece ‘Come All Ye Re-eds’, painted by Ranindra Singh, in which she depicts Liverpool fans watching a match at Anfield, with the famous stadium flanked by the Anglican and Metropolitan Cathedrals which are vying for the affections of the fans. The statement that football is the new religion of the working classes has been trotted out since I was a kid, so why has she bothered to repeat this cliché pictorially?

I also thought the series of work titled ‘Facets of Femininity’ tacky. Some of the women featured include Margaret Thatcher - amazingly; Geri Halliwell in her ridiculous Union Jack mini-skirt, and surprise surprise, Princess Diana. How boringly predictable it all is. Apparently this series purports to explore how women today have been defined through the media. But which media? The gutter press?

Relating to grossness, even worse is the Beckhams depicted as the “New Royal Family”. Jim and Barbara from the ‘Royle Family’ would have been a more interesting subject matter!

Other aspects of the exhibition include a FACT portrait series – seven portraits commissioned in 2002 for public display as light boxes in the FACT Centre. I fail to see the relevance of this; the Iqbalnama series – charting the life of Baron Sirdar Iqbal Singh; and the Blake Series – in which they reinterpret two works by Blake.

The most powerful piece in the show is ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ (The Storming of the Golden Temple) (1998), which depicts the siege of the Temple by Indian Troops in 1984. It is a very rich and detailed work employing a lot of unusual angles in illustrating what took place.