This exhibition brings together painting and sculpture by ten young artists working in the North West, chosen from more than 250 practitioners represented in Slidex. Though different in many aspects of their craft and practice, the selected artists share a witty, ironic or subversive approach to their chosen imagery.
The show’s title JOLLY PERIL PARADISE, taken from one of Stephen Roden’s constructions, summarises many of these concerns; an interest in the brash colours and loud humour of mass media; an engagement with visual cliché and pictorial language; and an awareness of the melancholy, sometimes the violence, of mundane experience.
None of the artists work directly from life and few depend upon the traditional skills of drawing or naturalistic representation. But they have in common a delight in transforming the signs they find around them with a willingness to invent fantastical, wry or disquieting structures of their own. Some make reference to their Northern surroundings and seem to demonstrate a recession-proof, artistic resilience; others would be as much at home in New York, Cologne or Rio de Janeiro, suggesting that Manchester and Liverpool are now, at last, good places to make art.
Sex and History, nostalgia and mass production all contribute to these works, usually handled with a deft touch and often with great style. When challenged about their sources, many of the exhibitors cite the Pop Art of the 1960’s, or such precursors of Pop as Dada and Surrealism, others the texts of Postmodernism. Though there are many other kinds of significant painting and sculpture being made in the North West, these artists are conspicuous for their productive plundering of the recent past and their mischievous way with the jollities and perils of the present.