A new exhibition by the acclaimed political artist duo kennardphillipps is being staged at Dadiani Fine Art on the eve of the general election.
May Not is a timely response to the snap election by Cat Phillipps and Peter Kennard, who create photomontages that analyse war, free speech and the corruption of power. The exhibition is free and the gallery’s founder Eleesa Dadiani hopes it will attract new audiences as well as those already familiar with their work.
It features an installation of photomontages printed on The Financial Times and blank newsprint, propped up by a three-dimensional red graph which snakes throughout the gallery, spiking up to the ceiling, and extending financial market figures into a physical manifestation. The artists take hold of this graph and connect it directly to images that focus on the real-world impact of financial powerbrokers and the political elite.
One of the images features a grinning Nigel Farage, clutching a pint, emerging from Theresa May’s head, suggesting that the Tories have absorbed UKIP while another suggests the Prime Minister has reduced the NHS to rubble. In another image, the dispossessed are gathered outside the door of 10 Downing Street.
Eleesa Dadiani said: “Dadiani Fine Art is excited to be presenting this very timely exhibition, which opens immediately before the general election, and continues in its aftermath. May Not is a powerful immersive experience, comprised of photomontages addressing current political upheaval and oppression.
Art extends and settles far deeper than your average news story, and these images certainly have a profound effect. When the freedom of speech is curtailed, another kind of protest begins – and that is usually in art”.
kennardphillipps is a collaboration between Peter Kennard and Cat Phillipps, who have been working since 2002 to produce art in response to the invasion of Iraq and address the themes of power and war across the globe. One of their best-known pieces of work is the image of Tony Blair taking a selfie in the war zone of Iraq and their work is made not only for galleries, but also to appear in newspapers and magazines, on the street and to lead workshops where participants can use visual art as an extension of political activism.
Their work is on show around the country and features in the Imperial War Museum’s exhibition People Power: Fighting for Peace, while their State of the Nations exhibit was commissioned by Cardiff’s Diffusion Festival, but the collaboration with Dadiani is bringing them to London’s premier art district.
Peter Kennard said: “We have gone from a disused shop in Cardiff to the heart of Mayfair where the winners in our political system go shopping. They will get a shock when they see this in Cork Street – it’s very direct. We want to reach beyond a traditional art audience. The Old Masters wrote the news in paint, we are trying to do the same. We are opening people’s eyes to what art can be”.
Cat Phillipps said: ‘We work to create an opening for critical thinking amongst our audience. We don’t want to tell people what to think or what the answers are. We’re not making propaganda. We aim to empower people, thinking beyond headline control; we are about people debating themselves, creating powerful,new perspective, consolidating citizen power. We challenge the right of politicians dominate the election’.
Poet Kate Tempest has written a poem for the exhibition which focuses on the June 8 election and begins with the opening line, ‘Strong and stable into ruin’.
May Not opens on June 6 with a private showing and is open to the public from June 7-July 7.