Sarah Lucas, Colin Lowe & Roddy Thomson: Temple of Bacchus


15 March - 27 April 2003

Temple of Bacchus presents all new work by Sarah Lucas, Colin Lowe and Roddy Thomson. The exhibition comprises individual and collective pieces, and the artists have collaborated on the show’s overall conception, themes and installation.

Thomas Brown noted of London in 1730 that “to see the number of taverns, alehouses etc. he would imagine Bacchus to be the only god worshipp’d there”. (Peter Ackroyd, London: The Biography). “Everyone is drunk, but drunk joylessly, gloomily and heavily, and everyone is strangely silent. Only curses and bloody brawls occasionally break that suspicious and oppressively sad silence….Everyone is in a hurry to drink himself into insensibility…. Wives in no way lag behind their husbands and all get drunk together, while children crawl and run among them.’’ Dostoevsky on the English pub in Summer Impressions (quoted in Jeremy Paxman, The English).

Sarah Lucas shares with Lowe and Thomson a subversive use of humour to unsettle and provoke. All three artists confront conventional interpretations of familiar imagery and are interested in the commonplace, the common man. Lucas’s provocative sculptures have used appropriated objects and common materials to form visual puns concerning sex, death and gender but her most recent exhibition, Charlie George (Berlin 2002), introduced new elements into her work such as the semantics of the seventies and football culture. Lucas’s individual and collaborative work for Temple of Bacchus, continues to look at established English imagery – high and low – with new considerations of St George and the Dragon and the pub drunk.

Colin Lowe and Roddy Thomson met at St Martin’s School of Art in the late 1980s but only began to work together a few years later. Their work is often text-based and frequently humorous. The Hurangutang Letters, a collection of pleas for corporate sponsorship and other correspondence, was shown in City Racing: A Partial Account at the ICA in 2000 and recently in To whom it may concern at CCAC Whattis Institute in San Francisco, both curated by Matthew Higgs. Their mobile bar, The Dark Throttle, was commissioned by BBC4 and shown at the Royal Academy’s Galleries Show last autumn. Matthew Collings, who included Lowe and Thomson’s piece Enthusanasia in Art Crazy Nation Show at MK Gallery last year, has said of their work that it “seems to distil that excellent moment when the first couple of drinks kick in and any thought that occurs seems funny, creative and inspired. Drink, its comedy and its tragedy, is often the subject of their work but it’s not their only subject. No artist has ever expressed the pathos, self-doubt, delusion, fear, strivings and ambition of creativity with such a light and bitter touch”.

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