Great Britizens PR by nAnN0r


									                                                              THE AGENCY
                                          PRESENTS THE INAUGURAL EXHIBITION IN THEIR NEW SPACE

                             Karen Tang, Pramface, 2008, private collection           Karen Tang, Callaloo Stu, 2009

                                                        GREAT BRITIZENS
                                                                KAREN TANG
                                      9 April – 16 May 09 | Preview 8th April 6-9pm
The Agency is pleased to present a new series of sculptures by Karen Tang. Working with materials that include welded steel, coloured grout and
fibreglass she has completed a series of fluid figurative sculptural pieces, with a knowing nod to Art Brut, the intelligent and also very playful shapes
of works by Dubuffet and Niki de St Phalle. Tang’s subject matter, however, is British urban grit with her portrayals of city dwellers, more the
underbelly than a general cut through society. The first of these works, Pramface was a satirical take on a stereotypical urban underage mum with
attitude, whilst also functioning as an abstracted pram and also not forgetting the funny and surreal aspect of the quasi - portrait. Very London in a
Catherine Tate kind of way, it finds humour within social critique.

Further “Britizens” have joined the cast of her forthcoming exhibition. There is Callaloo Stu, taking his name from the Jamaican stew made from the
spinach- like Caribbean vegetable. Stu is an independent and fierce character. A dead ringer for Popeye the sculpture is comical with its
testosterone fuelled posturing. It is also an amazingly subversive abstracted piece, which undermines formalist and racial stereotypes through finely
tuned references. Tang carries on her examination of 20th century formalist concerns whilst bringing her work into the 21st century with references
to celebrity worship, drug culture, paedophilia and club counterculture thrown into the equation. Her approach is both profoundly indebted to
modernism in formal terms as well as truly contemporary with its psychological fragmentation, a mirror of today’s complex social framework. It is the
psychological aspect of her work that pushes it more towards the surreal. Mr Whippy 200 Yards From the School Gates is a giant ice cream cone
literally coming to get you. With long arms waving and a suspiciously ordinary brown satchel he becomes the stuff nightmares are made of. A cross
between a schoolmaster and a giant sweet at eight foot tall he makes everyone feel small and vulnerable like a child, a repulsive threat, which
manages to be funny at the same time.
Siren Stephen and His Mirror is a rather skeletal mermaid with a giant mirror instead of her fishtail and sweeping long hair. Identified as male in the
title the piece is a pun on gay vanity on the dance floor, an exquisitely surreal piece of work, which highlights Tangs unique sculptural language.
The anti—portraiture continues in the work Miss SkegVegas, a stab at Skegness being the cheap seaside gambling arcade minus the glamour. A
female character complete with giant scrunchie, bad girly makeup and giant earrings the sculpture juxtaposes the garishness of the ladette or
wannabe WAG with the grace of a finely balanced sculpture and assured play with colour. Whilst conveying the carcrash couture accurately Tang
also manages to include stylistic references to pop art and modernist sculpture. Completing this host of eccentric and lovingly exaggerated
characters is the Crone of the Night, a haughty, operatic figure. Giacometti–like she stands on the thinnest supports which end in crow’s feet.
Rather than being flesh and blood she is hollow, a stylish mess of black artful hair and deep purple, dripping with jewellery on her insides.

The work has to be seen to experience the fine balance of satire and elegance Tang’s work conveys. The pieces are intriguing, very close to a
truthful portrayal of society and yet irreverent, imbued with a camp and overraught humour and an overriding sense of humanity (on the edge)

Karen Tang, born 1978, lives and works in London. Tang has shown widely including recently in projects at the Jerwood Foundation and the South London Gallery as
well as completing a public sculpture commission for the Economist Plaza. She was included in the group show l’après moderne at Projet Midi, Brussels and was
mentioned by Sam Steverlynck In December’s Art Review magazine. Her drawing Mush_Room is currently on view in the exhibition Testcard curated by Charles
Danby and George Unsworth for

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