Last week saw the opening of "New Work" by San Francisco artist Barry McGee at Modern Art Gallery, marking his first solo show in London in three years. Anyone who is familiar with his work can see that it's not exactly a new direction for the artist, but McGee always manages to keep it fresh by mixing up mediums and riffing on salon-style presentation while adding or subtracting dimensions from his eye-catching pieces.
Hence, the plaintive, tautological title for the exhibition: at worst, one might surmise that he's exhausted his creativity in the so-called "new work"... though it is rather more likely that the work simply speaks for itself.
McGee's signature hand-lettered glyph-like typography echoes the geometry of op-art patterns, while comic-style faces impart a more whimsical feel and sense of scale.
The press release (PDF) does the rest of the talking:Barry McGee's style... draws its structures and graphic impact from the influences of tagging, 'Mission School' abstraction, and vandalism, meeting a formal and installational logic that draws on the conventions of contemporary painting and sculpture. The core of McGee's practice is the expressive immediacy and spirit of independence that is rooted in the culture and histories of socially motivated intervention in the public realm.
McGee's paintings and drawings incorporate elegantly drafted elements of figurative linework and repetitive tessellations of geometric, abstract patterns which synthesize found and invented source material. In both formal and informal contexts, bold combinations of color, shape and knowledgably crafted graphic elements sit against and beside one another, alive with energy and empathy. His pictorial sense touches on the global reach of unsanctioned art that takes place within the fabric of urban architecture, but equally on Hispanic and Latin-American decorative arts, and functional graphics sourced from the post-consumer world. Hundreds of uniquely painted panels and objects can be fitted together, butted against one another in an immersive, site-responsive hang that results from McGee's openly intuitive working method.
Arrested Motion made it to the opening last week.
The exhibition runs until August 13, 2011
23/25 Eastcastle Street
London W1W 8DF