American dreams

The blurb for Shay Kun’s upcoming show talks of ‘pristine vistas blighted by tightropes, flagpoles, killer-whales and the evidence of contemporary human presence’.



The blurb for Shay Kun’s upcoming show talks of ‘pristine vistas blighted by tightropes, flagpoles, killer-whales and the evidence of contemporary human presence’. These vistas are, however, not reproduced with the usual Modernist, critical distancing techniques of photography or montage, but lovingly recreated – repainted – in slightly jarring acrylic. It’s all a bit reminiscent of the art stacked up against park fences on Sundays by enthusiastic amateurs or the paintings ‘made in Taiwan’ peddled by opportunists. This all only slightly takes away from the surprise entrance of the extraneous, humorous, elements. Of course, kitsch has long provided a rich seam to be mined. Most often it’s the safe, oh-so-knowing, kitsch the consumerist imagery of the post war West or popular religious art, whether Christian or Eastern, so it is nice to see a different visual traditional co-opted. In this case it is very specifically the American sublime of the Hudson River School of painting. What exactly Israeli-born, New York-resident, London-trained Kun thinks this has to do with the price of fish is open to question. Is it really the landscape of the US rather than that of countries threatened by America’s overwhelming dominance that bears the deepest ecological scars? But at least the work looks different. In a samey sort of way.



Shay Kun runs from 31 January to 24 February at Seventeen, 17 Kingsland Road, London E2

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