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London’s Calling

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[Around Town] Architect Chris Dyson has chosen two artists who explore city issues for his latest gallery exhibition

Summary: An artist who goes by the curious moniker ‘Bob & Roberta Smith’ and his real-life wife Jessica Voorsanger are the latest artists to exhibit at Chris Dyson’s gallery in Spitalfields.

Jessica Voorsanger’s work consists of collages of vintage photographs of London combined with images of celebrity faces – often floating in the air above famous landmarks, as in a picture of Johnny Rotten looming over Guildhall – and sometimes stuck onto prominent landmarks, as in a work which sees numerous celebrities peeking from behind the pillars of the National Gallery, or another which has Doctor Who’s Matt Smith on the advertising display at Piccadilly Circus.

Bob & Roberta Smith’s work involves painting reclaimed pieces of wood to create brightly coloured, signpost-style pieces, most of which have political messages, such as one which refers to the banking crisis, and another which refers to anti-fascist marches. The artist is also keen on green issues – one large work Imagine The Mile End of The Future, revolves around a sketch of a ‘greened-up’ street, complete with solar-powered trams, electric car lanes and cycle lanes, and lavender bushes ‘to attract bees’.

Highlights: After a year of beating the drum for London, it’s nice to get back to old-fashioned political statements focusing on the many problems found in the city. While Bob & Roberta Smith focuses on issues such as the economic crisis, fascism and the green agenda, Voorsanger examines the pervasive nature of celebrity.

Low points: Those who like to uncover the ‘meaning’ of artworks after some contemplation may find these works a little unsubtle.

Curator’s comment: ‘Both artists present their independent visions of London following a summer bookended by the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympic Games. Bob & Roberta… challenges [his] audience, elevating them from passive observer and instead directly engaging them in the debate at hand. Voorsanger explores the concept of celebrity within popular culture through obsession, fans and media representation.’

Final word: Colourful, eye-catching and accessible works.


London’s Calling
Eleven Spitalfields, 11 Princelet Street, London E1 6QH
Until 26 October 2012. Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, weekends by appointment, call: 020 7247 1816.
Entrance: Free

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