Widely admired for his work, Keith Coventry (Brunley, UK, 1958) takes aspects of modernism and grafts them onto socio-political issues and appropriates global symbols of junk culture – the golden McDonald’s arch, in particular – and recontextualises them, inviting the viewer to consider these logos afresh n a gallery context.
Working in white monochrome, or colour, he hones in on the curves of the infamous “M”, cropping, recasting and framing, to striking minimalist effect.
In employing these tropes of modernism, Coventry has said he is returning to the original ideas of utopianism behind these urban projects – now widely regarded as failures. As Coventry put it, this kind of social housing: “it was a promise given at the beginning of the 20th century that was unfulfilled.”
Living in central London, his immediate urban environs have remained Coventry's main source of inspiration: “Making art is about the things that surround me.” Yet, despite the socio-political undertone of his work, Coventry insists: “I'm totally ambivalent. I have no message. People can take one side or another. I don't have any polemic or didactic stance.”
“He is rather a wry commentator as he sees witty parallels between the perfect sublime and then the banal in contemporary life and visual culture”
– Norman Rosenthal in Keith Coventry: Pure Junk (Reflex Editions, 2018)