Political prints exhibition in England

Harwich exhibition poster

By Sanjiv Sachdev in England:

The revolution is being visualised

Saturday 23rd April 2016

SANJIV SACHDEV gets agitated by an exhibition of political prints

Tisdale and Murrell: Selected Prints
Swan House Gallery, Harwich

POLITICAL prints need to make an immediate, instant impact to attract attention. They also need visual wit and panache to earn a second, longer look.

Most of the work by Hugh Tisdale and Dan Murrell in this exhibition certainly meets those aims, whether it be a badger brandishing a smoking gun, a Mickey Mouse with the menacing grin of a blood-hungry Dracula or a barcode and the words: “Don’t think, consume,” indicting empty consumption.

“Simplicity is my favourite word,” says Tisdale and that’s evidenced in these images, with their straight, uncluttered lines.

But, on closer inspection, much thought and care are evident.

Fine art, photography and pop culture influences, be they British — Constable’s Haywain, via Peter Kennard — or the Russian Constructivists, especially El Lissitzky, are obvious sources of inspiration, alongside Castro drawn in the manner of poster-boy Che.

Flags of the US — which art critic Robert Hughes claimed to be “the most recognised abstraction in the world” — and Palestine are imbued with the spirit of protest with the words picked out in Tisdale’s favoured sans-serif Shire fonts.

The printing process often entails the use of a few carefully-chosen colours and reproducibility is key.

Thus in these silkscreen, digital and hand-printed images, a spotlight-like circle is often used to frame a figure, be it a Bond imitating a snarling Malcolm Tucker — whose belligerent pointing finger has the lethal presence of a Walther PPK — or a speeding Hawker Hurricane, where the circle deftly doubles as a propeller in motion. Typically, using minimal means, it captures movement with stillness.

Aesthetically reflecting, and partly shaped, by radical comment and protest, the show deserves a wide audience and, hopefully, it’s the first of many.

Free. Runs at the Swan House Gallery, Kings Head Street, Harwich until May 3, opening times: theswanhouse.gallery

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