Legends of Circumstance

Adam Dant Frances Disley Dave Evans Mikey Georgeson
John Hewitt Mark Hampson Peter Lloyd Ryan McClelland
Laura Oldfield Ford John Strutton James Unsworth

Curated by Dave Evans and Frances Disley

12 June - 4 July 2015

We are proud to announce Dave Evans and Frances Disley’s first curatorial project at the Whitecross Gallery – Legends of Circumstance. The show includes works by Adam Dant, Frances Disley, Dave Evans, Mikey Georgeson, John Hewitt, Mark Hampson, Peter Lloyd, Ryan McClelland, Laura Oldfield Ford, John Strutton and James Unsworth.

“Joseph’s feeling of strangeness sometimes takes the form of a conspiracy: not a conspiracy of evil, but one which contains the diversified splendours, the shifts, excitements, and also the common, neutral matter of an existence. Living under the shadow of such a conspiracy is trying. If it makes for wonder, it makes even more for uneasiness...”

Saul Bellow, The Dangling Man, 1944.

Disillusionment and disaffection go hand in hand with recession and financial crisis but for some this is a perpetual state. Legends of Circumstance celebrates these people, the anti-heroes, the reluctant protagonists who surrenders to the forces beyond their control and wallow in the petty degradations that life thrusts upon them. The anti-hero becomes an indistinct metaphor for the modern individual, deafened by the shrill squeal of the media, corralled by unyielding city terrain and humiliated by the absurd situations thrown up by common culture. They’re often selfish, addicted, corrupt, sullen or disenchanted and generally manifest society’s ambivalence to accepted moral and social beliefs and a post-modernist rejection of the traditional values characteristic of modernism. Artists explore the difference between the utopian ideal of the city and the physical and spiritual reality of its inhabitants. They delve into the empty fantasies of popular culture to reveal the equally empty eccentricities of everyday lives. Yet, as the work in Legends of Circumstance suggests, individuals triumph in small ways and we witness the strategies used to achieve these minor victories, the paths meandered along and the idle games played.

Much of the work featured in Legends of Circumstance focuses on activity at the periphery of society. Artists, science-fiction writers, morris dancers, cowboys and teenagers all make an appearence, mirroring the enduring popularity of the anti hero and by extension, society’s identification and obsession with the frailties of others. The emphasis on figuration and narrative and the direct nature of drawn and printed marks continues the anti heroic theme to include the artists themselves who stand alongside their subjects as individuals belligerently operating in the face of forces well beyond their control. From Adam Dant’s journalistic interventions in ‘Donald Parsnips Daily Journal’ to Mikey Georgeson’s back-to-front paintings, all of the artists in Legends of Circumstance present an invigorating view of a world which while flawed, remains hopeful.

A hand printed publication will be available through the gallery to accompany Legends of Circumstance. Each unique booklet contains text by Andrew Osborne, a reprint of the famous ‘Rozz Tox Manifesto’ by Gary Planter and works from all of the featured artists. The publication is strictly limited to 200 numbered copies.