VOUS ETES ICI Gallery will be showcasing The Critical Image, a major group exhibition by a collective of UK-based contemporary artists. The exhibition explores the cultural and critical durability of media and genre – focusing on the importance of abstract painting, installations and sculpture in response to claims of contemporary art’s alleged “post-medium condition”.
The exhibitors taking part in The Critical Image are members of Plastic Propaganda, a contemporary art collective established in 2009 by Angus Pryor, Reader & Head of the School of Art & Design, University of Gloucestershire and by William Henry, a UK-based installation artist and sculptor. The collective has previously exhibited and showcased work at a range of venues throughout the UK and internationally, including London’s Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge, and more recently, New Delhi and Taiwan.
Although Plastic Propaganda aims to be open and inclusive in ethos, it recognises in particular the cultural contribution of what has been described as a “post-conceptual generation” – those typically born in the 1960s and 1970s, for whom the legacies of both the Duchampian readymade and late modern responses to the art criticism of Clement Greenberg are cultural givens – long since internalised and accepted as part of an “expanded field” of cultural production. Both these strands underpin a range of critical and aesthetic concerns, including, for example, the durability of figurative and abstract painting, approaches to printmaking and engraving; the re-definition of sculpture and other object-based art forms such as installation.
As a peer informed and supported platform, the Plastic Propaganda collective reflects a belief in learning and engaging by practice; offering both contemporary artists and students of art history, opportunities to exhibit and to publish work as part of their onward professional and personal development. In doing so, it recognises some of the particular challenges and gains arising from what has been termed a ‘post-Fordist’ environment in which formally collaborative and shared approaches to art practice and cultural production more broadly can provide new possibilities and directions for critical and creative practice.
As Dr Grant Pooke, Senior Lecturer in Art History at the University of Kent, notes: “Emerging practitioner-based collectives like Plastic Propaganda recognise the changing nature of art not just in the UK but internationally and globally. In doing so it offers a pragmatic and inclusive approach to contemporary and critical forms of visual art practice”.