The Modern Institute, Glasgow, until Sat 23 Feb
New York-based painter Spencer Sweeney’s art seems to be suffering from a personality crisis, with stylistic approaches, materials and assumed personas thrown into a big American Magimix then smeared over his canvases. His last outing at the Modern Institute in 2005 was relatively tame, dominated by a hand-painted pop aesthetic that unashamedly re-worked Warhol, specifically that artist’s obsession with comics and advertising. The work also dealt with Warhol’s use of repetition, as a way of confounding the way we easily read the artist’s brushstroke as an unrepeatable gesture of genius. Marilyn-esque lips pouted from two canvases, with pop phallic symbols littering the compositions.
Sweeney also deals in authentically fake Americana – with beer bottles and other bits of junk from the street brought into the gallery, creating a cartoon-like version of the USA. A recent exhibition in New York included a NYPD police car, which was suspended upside-down from the ceiling, surrounded by a series of splashy paintings. Kippenberger looms large in many of his most recent works, with figures and text interweaving and becoming equally intentionally inane. It’s a well-trodden path that examines the tension between painting as description, tied to semblance, and as a thing in its own right. As club owner, DJ and musician we can assume that these experiences find there way into his work – quickly affixed disco balls turned the police car into chandelier at his club Santa’s Party House.