Scott King: Bortolami Dayan

By Wilson, Michael | Artforum International, Summer 2006 | Go to article overview

Scott King: Bortolami Dayan


Wilson, Michael, Artforum International


ANYWAY, I MUST DASH AS I'M GOING TO SET FIRE TO MY NEIGHBOURS HEDGE NOW. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES, AND HOPEFULLY I'LL SEE YOU SOON. I LOVE YOU BOTH VERY MUCH. YOUR SON, SCOTT. X. London-based artist Scott King seems to have a thing about hedges. The above reference in Dear Mum, 2003, a small print reproducing the text of a less-than-reassuring letter home that rounded off "Information," his recent exhibition at Bortolami Dayan, isn't the first or the only one of its kind. He also agonizes about the significance of shrubbery in, for example, Self Portrait as a Catholic Pie Chart (4 parts), 2002, elucidating his feelings of guilt for owning a house bounded by that stereotypical feature of suburban landscape design. King's work is informed by--steeped in, obsessed with, burdened by--the ethos and iconography of punk, and for a punk to descend into such comfortable normality might mark him as a traitor.

Yet King is nothing if not aware of the pop-cultural transgressions he has already committed. A former art director for British style magazine i-D and creative director for Sleazenation, he has long been involved in bending the seditious visual strategies of gone-but-not-forgotten movements, Dada and Situationism in particular, to the economic demands of the youth-media mainstream. In this respect, his debt to Jamie Reid, the designer who single-handedly invented the graphic language of punk in his record covers and posters for the Sex Pistols, is obvious. And while King revisits his radical models more directly (though humorously) in the sporadically published Wyndham Lewis-inspired journal Crash! (copublished with Matthew Worley), he remains sensitive to the divergent ways in which his approach is destined to be received as its context shifts: "As an art director and designer," he tells Rick Poynor in Communicate: Independent British Graphic Design Since the Sixties (2004), "I come up with solutions that are absolutely refined. They are reductive and they try to make a solution that is very clear. That does not seem to work very well in the art world. …

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