This unusual and sparse exhibition at ever-cutting-edge art venue ‘The Gallery Liverpool’ is disturbing and familiar in equal measures. Each work is composed of so many, often conflicting, elements that it is hard to take in any single summation of meaning, or lasting memory, even after extended perusal.

The singular nature of the imagery is undeniable, as is the level of craftsmanship. Yet ultimately one is left with a sense of isolation and distance from the work, which is disorienting if not alienating.

The artist, Naïve John (not his real name!) is an exponent of a new international art movement known as Pop Surrealism, and has described his work thus: “The new emerging technology of digital sculpture has allowed me to simultaneously sculpt and paint a virtual object in virtual space. Only when printed does it approach something which we can appreciate as being ‘real’ and even then it is merely a simulation.”

In terms of two-dimensional art it is hard to place; one is put in mind inevitably of the displacing ‘Pop Art’ imagery of the 1960’s movement, also taking into its stride much more recent advancements in 3D cartoon technology to bestow the high production values demanded by a technologically savvy viewing public.

Celebrating and concurrently demeaning popular high and low culture, absorbing long-standing and well-loved icons of each, this exhibition clearly does not set out to curry favour with the general public.

‘NJ’ also states that this branch of his art was originally fomented by the ‘cash cow’ of ‘avant-garde’ work: that this sector of the art world is both a mirror of the world economy, and endlessly self-reflective.

The latter is seen in his works ‘Granny Takes a Trope’ and ‘Better Than the Real Thing’, each confusing the viewer with infinite ripples of reflected images. His ‘Evolution of Intelligence’ is about people being prepared to kill each other for ideas, highlighting what he sees as the parallels between commerce and art.

Yet, it seems certain that the artist must be aware of a certain irony pertaining to the nature of his genre.

Apparently there exists a group of fans of his work who commission pieces and are prepared to pay very high prices for them. It is easy to understand why; the works are finished to an exceptionally high standard and the entire ‘look’ is post-modern, glossy and trendily cynical. This is a controversial and undoubtedly interesting show, likely to divide opinion into equal camps as to whether or not it’s ‘art’.

Exhibition runs until 3rd January 2012.
The Gallery Liverpool, First Floor, 41 Stanhope Street, Liverpool
Mon- Fri 10am – 4.30pm, 10am – 2pm Sat

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