Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Leon Golub: Bite Your Tongue



This is a timely exhibition, because these paintings by Leon Golub (1922-2004), at the Serpentine Gallery about the abuse of power, and oppression are very powerful and just as relevant today as when they were originally painted - particularly in light of the events concerning abuses of power in the USA, (and also closer to home), by the powers that be which are currently making the news headlines. 
Golub's subtext seems to be that we are all complicit in these abuses of power just by the act of observing and doing nothing. I would counter this by saying that people are not just passive observers anymore, especially in this video age. The general public are now capturing abuses on mobiles phones and cameras, and coming forward with the evidence. The recent Walter Scott/Michael Slager case in the US being a prime example.

Golub's paintings are executed on large scale canvases and I was particularly taken with the early works such as L'Homme de Palmyre (1962) above. The mark-making and textures he creates in this and other early works are beautifully abstract - much like a patina of verdigris on copper. This is a really thought-provoking exhibition which pricks at the conscience.


Leon Golub: Bite Your Tongue
Serpentine Gallery
until 17th May
Kensington Gardens
London W2
serpentinegalleries.org