Tuesday, 11 June 2013
Last Friday, 7 June, I went to the launch of Routine Atrocity, an exhibition by Cardiff-based artist Twang! The premise is decommissioned weapons of war, painted to resemble beautiful china, or maybe primitive folkiness. The juxtaposition of the the pretty, happy colours on, for example, an AK47, was... I don't know the right word to use here. They were beautiful, but also really quite scary. I stood next to the AK47 and imagined that it had probably been used to kill people. People were dead because of this once ugly, now transformed into beautiful, piece of deadly machinery.
Look at the detail of painting. It must have taken ages to get the tiny dots and hearts just right. The craftsmanship was undeniably staggering.
The chess pieces and board was my second favourite piece in the show. I have no idea if my interpretation is correct, but I'll try and explain it: Chess is a war game, but the most important thing is that there are two sides that can be told apart easily. One is black, and one is white. But in this piece, each pawn and knight and rook is painted differently. The Queen on one side, was painted in similar colours to the King on the other side. To me, this meant that we can not easily tell who is on who's side. The pawns were all painted differently, some had dots painted on the top, some didn't. Now pawns are the easiest pieces to lose, and the ones that players sacrifice in their strategies when playing chess, so to me it meant that there are varying levels of footsoldiers - perhaps some were meant to represent civilians, or innocents.
The board itself had no squares, demarcated places for the soldiers and infantry to advance or retreat. The board was a lacy, pretty battlefield - war, real war, is not as easily played as chess. It is not as tidy, or ordered, there is chaos, and inequality. It is not until the battles are lost and won, and the final conflict resolved (sometimes not until years later), that the real victor is known.
There were also some beautiful pen and watercolour paintings, the knuckle dusters one was my favourite. Something really horrible made to look pretty - I imagined a gay man using these to beat seven hells out of a violent homophobe. Maybe I should request a set for myself!
The tiny, painted razor blade was my absolutely favourite piece. It is small and perfect, and I love the way it's encased in glass. Trapped like a rare moth in a museum's lepidoptery section. One side was painted in warm colours, the other in cold. It can be used to shave a face, or slash a vein.
I also really loved the teeth! So, it was a marvellous exhibition. I loved the lacy, chintzy stands everything was displayed on. The little cards by each piece read (in a lovely cursive font): "Please Do Not Touch, fiddlers will be executed". I said a brief hello to Chris, he's small, handsome, and very smiley. A great artist.