Hot Valve Leak: Visual Ramblings of Vic Reeves at the Strand Gallery
The Strand Gallery on John Adam Street plays host to what is described as a “luring and manic vortex” of art by the comedian Vic Reeves.
The venue is packed, and the art work is impacting. What becomes instantly obvious on the first floor is the use of reds and yellows and blues to emphasise the shadows and dimensions of the pieces. The outer linings of faces are strewn with streaks of green and orange, and despite it seeming an odd choice, it works. Icon is a particularly bizarre piece. A long strong, faintly messianic face is surrounded by blue skulls and spooky apparitions. These are splashed onto the canvas in a very childlike manner. The blend of mess and maturity is intriguing, but it ultimately lacks a clear point.
In the basement is a collection of smaller doodles that electrify with craziness. Tom Jones’ face is juxtaposed with a garden hose depicted in biro on the back of a jiffy envelope. Initially funny and detailed, but with a price tag of £550 (excluding VAT), you do question the relevance of such a value. Another £550 item is Denim, which is two magazine cuttings, one of a denim shirt and one of a monkey draped in a piece of clothing and then some word ramblings written in pen ink. There is no wow factor in the piece, however comic it is, and its price takes away from its joy entirely.
However, Reeves’ canvas paintings are exquisite. He is an artist, and a very good one. Alan Todd is a stunning visual of a face smeared in shades of blue that illuminates the corridor of the gallery. The exhibition feels as if Reeves had a collection of brilliant paintings that were too few to stand alone, so he threw some doodles and collages together and framed them to make up the rest.
The “ramblings” can be rather charming – for example, a simple drawing of a Dalmatian explaining how you can find constellations of stars within the dots on its fur. Another charmer is Wotcha Cock, which shows the head of a horse with human ears: “Yes, I am a horse. But I have had my ears transplanted with a human’s ears by decree of Sir Winston Churchill (see opp.)”. The piece screams British humour and the horse’s expression can’t help but induce a smile.
Bizarre and occasionally politically charged, it’s worth popping into on your way past. It isn’t your typical gallery and it won’t please everybody, but it is an appealing spectacle if you’re going to view rather than buy.
Hot Valve Leak: Visual Ramblings of Vic Reeves is at The Strand Gallery until 23rd February 2013. For further information visit the gallery’s website here.