Ben Cove ‘Vernacular Hangover’ Exhibition Text

I’ve contributed a text to Ben Cove’s new solo exhibition, ‘Vernacular Hangover’ at Acme Project Space. More information here.

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Thursdays to Sundays, 1pm to 6pm
Private view: Thursday 6 June 2013, 6pm to 8pm

‘Vernacular Hangover’ is an exhibition of new work by Ben Cove conceived for the Acme Project Space. New paintings will be hung on top of, and alongside, large-scale reproductions of American press photographs from an early 1970s Primitive Art exhibition. Cove’s work examines the physical and social legacies of Modernist practices and its associated languages. Initially trained in architecture, earlier work utilised a broad range of media to focus on particular strains of Modernist architecture and design. These concerns have expanded out in the painting language that Cove has developed over recent years into an exploration of seemingly incongruous phenomena; the universal and the vernacular, the functional and the decorative, brashness and sobriety, abstraction and representation. Always aware of the physicality of the painting as an object, Cove’s paintings are often made to be hung in conjunction with other elements. Several works in the show will consist of paintings which sit alongside partially painted, wall and floor mounted plywood structures.

The exhibition will be accompanied by an essay by curator and writer George Vasey.

‘A painting is never just purely compositional; to make a line is to assert both an aesthetic and ethical position. Modernist Abstraction was all about these divisions; you and me, us and them, figurative and abstract.

Ben Cove’s paintings invoke a particular strand of Modernist Abstraction, yet one attuned to his own conditions. If Modernism was a response to its own technological advancements (aviation, industrialism, and the machine) then Cove’s paintings are informed by new abstractions (economic, social, and digital.) Where Modernism was oppositional, Cove collapses these dialectics. His paintings are at once heraldic, and diagrammatic, provisional yet monumental. Cove’s new paintings invoke Modernist Abstraction while offering a necessary corrective to its pathologies. We could be looking at an unbuilt home, a logo for a multinational corporation or simply two lines intersecting within a nebulous environment. Cove understands that while the Modernist project was about purging narratives and metaphors we can’t help but use the surface of an abstract painting as a type of mirror to reflect our own narratives back at us.’ 

George Vasey


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