Bob and Roberta Smith: This Artist is Deeply Dangerous
This article is from 2009.
Humorously subverting the relationship between artist and critic
Leave this one for last: it is a good end to a long day of wandering around the Festival. Bob and Roberta Smith’s painted panels hang in the plush interiors of Hawke and Hunter’s upstairs bar. Viewers can sit down on comfortable seats with soft throws, surrounded by opulent decorations, a fireplace, candles, small drinks tables and large windows overlooking the top of Leith Walk.
Smith’s colourful paintings brighten the rather Gothic colour scheme of this bourgeois chill out lounge, but if you come to them with no prior knowledge they can easily be mistaken for menu boards advertising weird and wacky cocktails.
This exhibition is based on an article written by Guardian tennis correspondent Steve Bierley, who swapped jobs with an arts correspondent and wrote a review of Louise Bourgeois’ exhibition in Paris. Bierley, who had no prior knowledge of Bourgeois’ work, wrote a refreshingly candid take on her exhibition, and this inspired Smith to transcribe the article onto panels of timber in his signatory sign writing style.
The exhibition acts as an advertisement for an article: making art about writing about art. Although his attempt to subvert the relationship between artist and critic carries weight, the product becomes highly processed when placed in this environment. But there is humour here, as this type of accessibility is exactly what Smith’s practice is about: consumers need to feel comfortable.
If not for the art, go to give your feet a rest, order a Paradisi Daiquiri and recline on the comfy seats.
The Grey Gallery, 0791 0359 086, until 5 Sep, free.