Art Review: The Kingdom Of The Blind

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 121 months ago
Art Review: The Kingdom Of The Blind
0309_hewlocke.jpg

Artist Hew Locke's familiar preoccupations - the iconography and trappings of rule, and the relationship between those in power (for example the British monarchy) and their subjects - have gone intergalactic in his new show, The Kingdom Of The Blind.

The ground-floor gallery at Rivington Place is filled with towering fetish objects, hulking great forms standing totemic against the wall, the private collection of some demagogic ruler. Get up close to these figures - some of which loom 14ft tall - and a grim miscellany reveals itself: toy doll heads and limbs, plastic lizards, necklaces, fake handbags and heirlooms; the maudlin detritus of human tat found at any local flea market. Each figure is armed, and indeed, the barrels and handles of weapons are bound up in the forms, from whose cranial expanses cold eyes stare. Chillingly, the largest figure holds two shrunken humanoid shapes by their legs, dangling them helplessly, the moment of victory over vanquished foes.

Locke has performed similar tricks before, notably in How Do You Want Me, which used more earthbound forms - the figures of corrupt kings and bandits. Yet these colourful creatures were placed against equally splendid backdrops, lending them the air of Malian photographer Malick Sidibé's portraiture. The figures in his new show are displayed against the stark white walls of the gallery, mysterious objects in a familiar setting. A similar trick was played earlier this year in the Barbican's Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art, but there the captions and audio guide added a wry if ultimately wearying contextual irony: Locke's installation eschews any such easy solution, and is more rewarding for it.

The Kingdom Of The Blind, at Rivington Place, EC2A 3BA (map). The exhibition is on until October 20th. Entry is free.

Last Updated 03 September 2008