Bethany Rex, 'Alex Pollard: Collaborations' (Aesthetica, 38, 12/2010)

Collaborations brings together a series of new paintings, ready-mades and assisted ready-mades by Glasgow-based artsit, Alex Pollard. Interested in the playful restaging of cultural codes and the trivialisation of the legends he depicts, the pieces in this show speak plainly about themselves, regardless of their wider cultural appeal.

The highlight of the show, 1996, reiterates the artist’s interst in the mythic outlaw archetypes and the absent sublime that makes up the signs and symbols in Pollard’s previous works. The deformed figure of the anti-hero, Robin Hood, is almost branded throughout the works in a series of smudges, stains and fragments of questionable debris, which brings a sense of immediacy to the show that is missing from the flat packed cardborad shoe boxes and CD spinners of the ready-mades.

Whilst the pieces featured in Collaborations are theorethically complex, they are deceptively simple in their form. Marking a distinct, and arguably unwelcome, departure from Pollard’s previous work, Dex-Dexter on Chrome Yellow sets the tone here; a bold lushly coloured, emblazoned piece almost bulging with references to second order information and the debris of our fast-paced, contemporary society. At a first glance, especially in comparison to the artist’s black and white oil paintings such as Clown (2007), the works appear as merely a series of neo-romo appropriations. The question here is are they being used to counter current systems of cultural reception and consumption, or are they entering into a broader debate in a playing field where signs and symbols operate out of context in a game whose rules we no longer understand?