Keith Coventry: White Black Gold at Pace London
White Black Gold is the new exhibition of Keith Coventry’s most recent work at Pace London. A continuation of his Pure Junk series, which has previously consisted of constructivist cropped renditions of discarded McDonald’s packaging as symbols of rampant consumerism, his paintings are dispassionate, esoteric and mostly cream-coloured, containing monochrome rectangles, squares, and portions of McDonald’s arches, or bronze and gold geometric shapes within the bland canvases.
Commenting on our consumerist society and the despair embodied in the urban landscape, which he presents as minimalist modernist abstractions, the works are cynical notes to high and low culture and social disintegration. He combines the most vulgar aspects of our culture, symbolised by MacDonald’s imagery and crumbling urban structures with a very pure, elitist Modernism, mocking capitalist dualities and hypocrisies.
Although interested in Expressionism, Coventry has stated that he has chosen instead what he calls “repressionism”, in fact removing all expressiveness by using little variation in tone, leaving only the texture of the paint. Composed of wood, beeswax, muslin, glass and gesso, the pieces in White Black Gold incorporate sculptural elements, suggesting the idea of paintings as objects, echoing the theme of capitalism’s commercialist objectification.
The show also includes one huge bronze industrial-style sculpture, Window, displaying a bombed-out building front, resembling the remnants of a damaged architectural structure. Coventry has stated that bronze is centuries old and has an “ennobling quality”, transforming a worthless, or overlooked structure and creating “almost […] a monument to this short life”.
Coldly industrial, detached, upon first glance these minimalist pieces in White Black Gold might seem to lack passion or visual spark, their ambiguity disorienting. However, their passion lies within Coventry’s dismayed reinterpretation of the aggression, excesses and despair of postmodern society. Viewed from a conceptual perspective, they come alive and are imbued with meaning, piquing intellectual and artistic curiosity and reflection.
Photos: Stephen White
Keith Coventry: White Black Gold is at Pace Gallery from 27th April until 28th May 2016, for further information visit here.