Improvers

Improvers

Improvers is the second exhibition by Stuart Middleton at Carlos/Ishikawa. It is comprised of two-dimensional works. Polychromatic drawings, based on photographs taken by the artist, are rendered smoothly in coloured pencil. They depict cattle being exhibited at a county show this summer. In each frame the young handlers twist their charges’ heads to present the animal’s best side to the judge. Stiffly dressed in formal clothes, their attention is focussed away from the viewer, as they struggle to hold the cattle still. The cattle are judged on criteria including musculature for meat, udder proportion, skeletal structure for bearing calves. The tender way these beasts are curried and dressed contrasts with the violence implied by judging, capturing the tension of husbandry; of living stock. These images represent units of value, but also breathing, mooing beings. Spreading across two walls of the gallery a mural depicts a pair of HGV’s equipped to carry logs. Painted nearly life size, using highly pigmented scenic paint, the vehicles, like the cows, appear to have been cleaned up. Their contoured body work is smooth, sanitised and new. The mural is a forest scene. Rather than an unknown realm of fantastical potential, unchecked growth and decay, the forest is packaged and in motion, it’s trees razed and rolled onto trucks, carried away to the plywood factory. Improvers takes it’s title from the colloquial term for the experimental livestock breeders of the 18th Century. It also evokes the relentless drive for self betterment and progress at the expense of all else, espoused by those familiar deacons of good breeding and entrepreneurial spirit. The exhibition is accompanied by a flip book that documents the arrival of the Virgin Pendolino from London into Glasgow Central.

Improvers

  • Carlos/Ishikawa's Exhibitions 6

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