The York painter Harland Miller explores the art of fiction in Overcoming Optimism (4 stars)

Cock-snooking obscenities with darkly subversive intent

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The York painter Harland Miller explores the art of fiction in Overcoming Optimism

If the Obscene Publications Squad are on the case of this first solo exhibition in Scotland by a York-born painter with a name like a pulp fiction hack, rest easy. Miller’s monumental depictions of dog-eared Penguin book designs down the decades may look like the sort of behind-the-counter smut peddled under plain cover, but it’s the titles themselves that show off the real art of fiction.

On the one hand, epic tomes such as the punk-inspired ‘Fuck Art, Let’s Dance’, the scientifically inclined ‘Incurable Romantic Seeks Dirty Filthy Whore’ and the possible Off-Broadway smash, ‘Born to Get it in the Tits Every Single Day Though’ are masterpieces of cock-snooking fantasy-wish-fulfilment obscenity à la Joe Orton’s adventures in an Islington library.

Beyond pop savvy fun and games and the Rude Kid style relish with which sweary-words are employed to flirt with the forbidden (as with old-school porn emporiums, the rudest title here is kept under lock and key), lies a darkly subversive intent. In what looks like the filthiest library in the world, try shushing that one up.

Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh until Sat 26 Jan

Harland Miller: Overcoming Optimism

Works by artist and writer who has been painting fictitious Penguin book covers.

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