Barbican Arts Group Trust

Gid London


Collage has a long history as part of modernist art practice and Gid London’s work seems to contain echoes of many of his Avant Garde predecessors. Often his collisions of Victoriana, consumer packaging, advertising and torn up magazines seem part of the tradition started with Dadaist collage and continued through the Lettrist ‘de-collage’ of Jacques Villegle or Situationist ‘detournment’ - the sedimented layers of capitalist image production and collective unconscious jostle for attention, each tattered remnant altering the others’ meanings to produce uncanny new combinations. Sometimes we are reminded of the banal equivalence of images in a world where signs are so readily available, yet their torn and tattered state reminds us that, despite the breezy promise of novelty that each new spectacle offers, each new order of codes will always end up on the junk heap of history. Each ‘shock of the new’ gives way to nostalgia and the passing of time, (begging the question, what would something actually new look like…how do we break out of this deadlock?).

But there is also a vigour and immediacy to London’s work that is more sensuous and joyful. Colours jostle rhythmically, there is a light-hearted playfulness to many of the components – at heart you can feel his allegiance to that celebration of the simultaneously random, spontaneous and expressive embodied by American Abstract Expressionism and its aural counterpart, Jazz. In fact his compositions frequently feel synaesthetic, riffing along like Kandinsky’s attempts to embody sound in paint. The work echoes the grit and grain of improvised jazz – each tear is a reminder of the very organic nature of the components, each crack and crease summons up the beauty of accidental moments, each ragged edge bears the soul of something that has been manipulated, touched and handled. These are not cold digital surfaces. Gid London is definitely Jazz and not Techno!

But at the heart of London’s work is a more uniquely British sensibility less muscular and bombastic than his 1960s American heroes and never as weighed down by history and intellectualism as the European Avant Garde. London spent much of the ‘80s living in squats in the de-industrialising capital, inhabiting the peeling and tattered remnants of decades of British middle class domesticity. So often this element is strong in the works – daintily erotic images peek out from behind floral wallpaper, lacy objects (doily or underwear?) appear as if through a crack, the Jackson 5 (now impossible to see without the decades of psycho-sexual baggage they have accrued) dressed in evangelist attire loom, as if wrested from some teenage poster. Often it as if the repressed libidinal secrets of a decaying house are brought to bear through each collage – each a document of a bohemian life in the crumbling ruins of this ever-changing city.

Anja M Kirschner




painting - Stephen Malies

'Pour Me a Cuban Breeze, Gretchen'
1.2metres x 0.9metres.