Simon Periton (3 stars)

The Modern Institute, Glasgow, until Sat 24 Feb


It is easy to find superficial anti-art and anti-aesthetic urges in Simon Periton’s spray painted collages and assemblages on show at The Modern Institute. The materials he takes his inspiration from appear to have been ripped from fly-posted and graffiti-covered walls, lifted from pavements and snatched from bins. And there is a certain retro indulgence in what used to be called camp (the knowing, twisted sister of kitsch) in the work too. Tinsel, fairy lights and shells act as ready-made add-ons, and are transformed into eyelashes, bubblegum bubbles and inelegant noses respectively. Natural and unnatural elements are enmeshed and hybridised; faces almost emerge from many delicate layers of stenciled pattern.

But Periton has a more familiar orderly side, evidenced in ‘Baronness’ (pictured), for example. Here the indulgent formal experiments that take place in some of the larger works are stripped back, and a more restrained hand is at work. Butterfly patterned paper is cut into, teased, and painted over, creating a three dimensional piece that effortlessly unites the many influences that hover over the show ?" occultism, colonialism, pop art, etc. ‘Catwoman’ and ‘Bonfire’ have a similar feel, where only one or two techniques are used, and the compositions are kept free of distracting multidimensional eye clutter. But they are not half as fun as the gaudy nonsense of ‘Dogger’, ‘Shell Queen’ and their ilk, where the grotesque face of nature looks back and asks ‘Pretty pretty?’, in the manner of drag diva Divine or the pattern-poked visage of Leigh Bowery.

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