| Some Products
23 February, 2009
Sigh, I'm so in love with Sartorial Contemporary Art and its increasingly awesome shows that it could be bordering on Objectum Sexuality . The slashed canvasses, crass brushwork and perverse fetishism in Liz Neal's new show Some Product do little to dissipate these new and curious feelings. A sexually charged examination of consumerism, the cult of lifestyle and desire, Neal's huge canvasses offer up naked flesh and bodily fluids alongside religious iconography, classical art and historical figures.
Neal's paintings are a visceral, adult experience, which need to be experienced in the flesh for their full effect. With obnoxious slogans zooming into view and genitalia protruding from all corners, they're like an orgy in a DFS advert. Her vicious reds and pinks, and voracious brushstrokes scream from the walls. In Explosion and Mary , out of orgasmic splodges of labia-coloured splatter emerge cherubs and Madonnas, as if Botticelli had overdosed on Viagra and vomited in an aesthetically relevant way. Her canvasses are live and writhing, brimming with a coarse, unchained opulence and an atypically British lewdness.
Ophelia at the Watering Hole and History II are layered with two or three canvasses, all of which have been painstakingly filled, only to be layered and then slashed. Hanging from the frame like discarded horror-movie victims, they reveal flashes of detail underneath such as an Elizabethan costume which harks back to previous ages of hedonism and economic boom. Neal brings a smart punk attitude to her art and gets just the right balance of bawdiness, humour and philosophy. Black Hole is a perfect example of this, a pastiche of a dildo advert superimposed over a kaleidoscope of female genitalia, so subtle that you can walk past without noticing anything amiss; either a sign that Neal is skilled at making the perverted look acceptable or that our methods of advertising have made the lascivious commonplace.
Downstairs, Neal's pictures become calmer and her tones are less livid, although her work is no less opulent. Bird Girl and Adam are like bordello tapestries, entirely embroidered, her protagonists obscured by bird masks with myth and voodoo connotations and Bosch-esque symbols flittering in the background. There are also intimate pictures of her androgynous muse Paul, a close up of his lips, or armpit, more empathetic portraits than her paintings of him as the sex-club contessa and harbinger of a sexual apocalypse in Apocalypse Paul .
Altogether the show is ludicrous and overpowering, rough around the edges and revelling in debauchery; but gloriously so. Neal's art is halfway between a titter at a porno and a twinge between your legs. The work is also shown well, either blaring from the clean white walls or spilling over the frame into a huge messy mural. Perhaps not a show for your grandma or the pope, but Some Product is a chance to indulge in some down and dirty fantasies without setting foot in an adult emporium, pure grimy bliss.