“From afar, these things, these Movements take on a kind of appeal they don’t have close up. I can assure you. But, after all, I’m beginning to get used to the –isms.” 6 July, 1921 Marcel Duchamp
Art movements may be a kind of fiction, an attempt by art critics and historians to tell a story by creating categories that do not exist in reality, e.g. the baroque. Some clever post-Hegelian artists and poets consciously create their own art movements, e.g. Surrealism. Furthering a fiction by consciously creating ‘real’ examples is playful and creative but not a proof that the original fictional is true. Just as speaking Elvish or Klingon is not a proof of elves or Klingons.
Critics want an art movement to have a start and finish date, presenting a distinct section in the archeological dig through old art. The idea that the contemporary art world might simply be continuing past movements is anathema to the idea of progressive art. Pop art is an art movement started in the second half of last century and it seems to be continuing.
Neo-Pop at the John Buckley Gallery could be seen as demonstrating this continuing movement or a curatorial band to tie the work of disparate artists. The exhibition features art by Howard Arkley, Rae Bolotin, Marcel Cousins, Janenne Eaton, Kate Just, Christopher Langton, Nick Mangan, Scott Redford, Stuart Ringholt, Carl Scrase (see my review: Only Rock’n’Roll) , David Wadelton (see my review: Spin, Persephone, Homepage & Emu Feathers), Glenn Walls and others. Some of these artists create works of capitalist realism like, others are jokers, and others are creating sculptures with pop rhythms and colors. Or sculptures out of contemporary readymade materials, like Carl Scrase.
The artists in Neo-Pop are clearly influenced with the art of the 1960s but the art of the 1960s was not a unified, homogeneous whole but diverse variety. Pop is a difficult concept to define; just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? Even though it is difficult to define and may not exist, Pop Art is something that I like. It is a term that refers to art that is fun and appealing, even apparently superficial, but also a mirror on consumer culture. I knew what to expect from the Neo-Pop exhibition because of the term ‘pop’ and it exceeded these expectations.