London’s Public Gallery Honors American Art Critic Craig Owens in New Group Show

Centered on postmodernist theory in relation to the contemporary moment.

Exhibitions

London’s Public Gallery is hosting a new group exhibition dedicated to the American art critic, Craig Owen, who championed postmodernist theory in the second half of the 20th century. Owens passed away in 1990 due to AIDs-related complications and is remembered for his time serving on the staff of Art in America, first as a associate editor, then to senior editor within the 1980s. Curated by Nicole Estilo Kaiser, the show features work from 13 international artists spanning seven decades whose work is united through the echoes of postmodern debate within the context of the present.

Owens, who identified as gay and favored feminist theory, challenged the debate regarding cultural authority in the decades after the Second World War, particularly in the problem of representation. “Allegorical imagery is appropriated imagery,” he once explained, “the allegorist does not invent images but confiscates them…He does not restore an original meaning that may have been lost or obscured; allegory is not hermeneutics… Rather, he adds another meaning to the image. If he adds, however, he does so only to replace: the allegorical meaning supplants an antecedent one; it is a supplement. This is why allegory is condemned, but it is also the source of its theoretical significance.”

To supplement the fragment comprises of painting, sculpture and multi-media installations that probe into the contemporary moment in relation to the postmodern question. Standouts within the show include Elliot Hundley‘s Night (2021), a large-scale work made of materials such as encaustic paper, plastics and photo fragments that are pinned together in a mélange of iconography, periods and cultural touch-points. Whereas, American artist John Miller bypasses the abstract in favor of a mannequin female figure, clad in a space suit — and a skull patch giving off the bird — as it lifelessly looks up to the heavens, surrounded by smaller space figurines.

The exhibition is currently on view in East London until May 18.

Public Gallery
91 Middlesex St,
London E1 7DA

Exhibiting Artists

Nils Alix‑Tabeling
Dotty Attie
Peter Brock
Greg Carideo
Emma cc Cook
Adam Farah‑Saad
Elliott Hundley
Xin Liu
John Miller
Meitao Qu
Tiffany Wellington
Jessica Wilson
Evian Wenyi Zhang

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