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Manchester lifestyle reviews

Call That Art? - The Art Lounge

Call That Art? A solo exhibition by Davlo

At The Art Lounge, Upstairs, Beehive Pub, New Mills

Reviewed by Simon Belt March 2012


The title of this exhibition is both delightfully bold whilst covering itself with the get out clause of being ironic and playful to soften the impact - Call That Art? How very clever, how very profound, and how it taps into the widespread recognition of the rip-off Britain's New Labour fawning over the Britart artists, and their repacking of a lot of tat as art.


This exhibition offers a rare opportunity to view paintings, prints, collages and 3D pieces of this genre that seldom make their way into gallery space. Challenging aspects of modern living and society and indeed some commonly held views about what art is. So how exactly does Salford born urban artist Davlo answer the question behind the exhibition through his art? Very well actually, with great aplomb and a good deal of humour actually.

Davlo’s work can be found in private collections in the UK and abroad, including, and perhaps most notably, Vivienne Westwood, who described a piece depicting Malcolm McLaren as touching and somewhat poetic. And ahead of the preview for the exhibition, Davlo left a limited number of his works around the New Mills town centre area, so that keen eyed art enthusiasts could pick up a piece for free. And this rather fitted the spirit behind the creation of the pieces in the exhibition.


I think one of the first things to mention about Davlo's art is that it's made from very ordinary and easily obtainable materials - just look in most bins and you could pick up pieces of carboard boxes, the likes of which seem to be the mainstay of his 'canvasses'. A pair of scissors and you could cut out some coloured paper or scraps of old material and you're almost complete with materials. I presume he's used a little glue here and there, so the last thing would be the remnants of a spray can or two and you're all kitted out.


Urban Chic(k) by DavloI've perhaps painted a picture (more than Davlo does!) of a cheapskate artist who's having a larf at our expense, and I guess that's where the irony defence comes in. There is though something quite exquisite in some of these pieces, and the beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder. The delight isn't in the utility or technique per se, but from the ideas behind them and their delivery. Agitprop for an unpolitical age for sure - politically loaded subject matter delivered in a form that has sufficient ambiguity to allow the viewer to develop the narrative. I say the narrative, but this is really your narrative, that Davlo simply encourages you to think about.


So, let's takeone of my favourites, Urban Chic(k), corrugated cardboad canvass drawn on, singed  and spay painted. Completely naff technique on the surface f it, but resulting in a terrificly engaging dialogue, well for me because I filled in the narrative for myself. First off you have the urban chic of relative and provocative glamour and sharp definition (chic) of a young urbane woman (chick), in contrast to the scruffiness of the surrounding creased cardboard and spray paint. The young woman is busy applying hair spray as urban chicks do as part of being chic, yet this draws you in to judge the woman's actions for causing global warming and burning a hole in the ozone layer through the frivolous use of the aerosol. Pleasure and guilt around a contemporary political theme. Oh so urbane of Davlo and Agitprop, albeit by turning on each other rather than more traditional sources of hostility for Agitprop like the state. 


David Lloyd (Davlo) came across as a very grounded and relaxed artist and not at all precious or uptight about his works. He described himself as an abstract artist, yet with only a few exceptions - all his pictures are very human centred, just taking on a very human for.


contact The Art Lounge tel: Lyn Bannister 07753 842 861 or visit the Art Lounge Facebook page.


Of interest, there is something about New Mills that reminds me of Hebden Bridge, though more visually focussed than wordy - the New Mills Art Theatre, New Mills Original, Hydro Electric Scheme, Millennium Walkway, New Mills Heritage Centre, even the New Mills Golf Club joining in on the New Mills Art Festival, and finally Spring Bank Arts. All in all quite a centre of all things artistic in athe area but so visually based - where are the poets, the authors, script writers? Ok so there's advertisers like Karl Sinfield and wordsmith like Scott Robertson of The Right Hook, but they're much more in the advertising realm. Yes, I got some school students to review Kill All Enemies, but Melvin Bugess now lives in Hebden Bridge, so will New Mills extend the cultural attraction to include litereature?

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