Tracey Rees-Cooke takes in a bold new pop art exhibition at the Mostyn Gallery in Llandudno which brings together Derek Boshier and Cardiff’s S. Mark Gubb.
Glenda Jackson is playing the title role of King Lear in New York, David Hockney is exhibiting alongside Van Gogh in Amsterdam and Derek Boshier is exhibiting in Llandudno. Derek Boshier’s It’s Only When the Tide Goes Out: Selected Works and Ephemera 1976-2018 is a timeless exhibition which fuses together subtle observations and big statement pieces in the bright, modern space of Mostyn Gallery.
Boshier’s exhibition is curated by Cardiff based artist S. Mark Gubb, who co-exhibits his own work ‘Y Farn Glag’ (The Last Judgement). Gubb’s monumental exhibition is inspired by Bosch, Goya, the Sistine Chapel, Gubb’s own ancestral connections with Welsh landscape painter Edgar H. Thomas and a lifelong love of heavy metal music. Both artists cross wires seamlessly on a joint venture which presents fragments of the present and relics of the future through a powerful range of forms and materials including objects merged with stone, stone carvings, wood, metal, fabric, photography and montage.
Born in 1937 in Dorset, L.A.-based Boshier has more connections with Wales than might be at first obvious. This is a broad portfolio representing a creative mind that never seems to stop; from the personalised video cases to the striking monochrome tapestry ‘America‘ (2018), this is a thought-provoking portrait of the artist who captures ongoing preoccupations, themes and ideas including his experiences in his cottage in north Wales in the 1970s.
The photographs ‘Landgyfan Sky’ (1973), ‘New York Canal Street’ (1979) and ‘Vaughn Street, Llandudno’ (2019) all encapsulate humour, constant engagement and a vivacious non-stop energy inspired by surroundings and buzzing off subject matter ranging from sheep dipping to charity shop junk.
Both Boshier and Gubb have worked with musicians for inspiration, Boshier with The Clash and David Bowie and Gubb has more than a penchant for extreme death metal music. This is perhaps reflected in his choice of medium for the ‘Herculean’ piece, dominating the gallery space beautifully in corrugated iron. Gubb’s colours combine the luminosity of Michelangelo’s plafond for the Sistine Chapel with the brashness of the baroque art of the carousel and the bumper car – he offers us a scathing reflection of the hellfire that our political leaders exist in today. His collaboration with fairground artists brings to mind nostalgic images from Ken Russell’s 1962 documentary Pop Goes the Easel which brought Boshier to the mainstream and established him as leading figure in the pop art genre.
Both exhibitions are solidly populist in soul and tone; Boshier’s observations of the local newspaper The North Wales Pioneer are devilish in their humour and again complement ongoing themes in both artists’ work. Likewise, Gubb’s flags appear as super cool, both iconic and ironic in the high vaults of the Mostyn gallery.
This is a must see collaborative , it will make you think and it will make you smile, if not laugh out loud.
And don’t forget to catch your last breath as you look up at the ceiling …
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Tracey Rees-Cooke is a contributor to Wales Arts Review.