2 March 2024

Review in the Curious Curator

This is an excerpt from this article published in the Curious Curator.

I serendipitously walked into Bosse & Baum’s new space just a few buildings further than the previous gallery location an hour before Luke Burton’s fourth solo exhibition preview with a friend. Well, suppose anyone wants to dive deep into the politics of Britain and the geopolitics of Westminster. In that case, they can do this by visiting Westminister Coastal, including personal narratives and cultural symbolism, and questioning the role of art in political discourse.

The use of Twiglets in the exhibition brought me back to when I was a student fifteen years ago at the London College of Communication in the middle of the Elephant Castle roundabout. They used to sell them in the 99 p store in the mall across the school, and I remember munching on them without really thinking about the content or the form, looking precisely like twigs (in the small form, of course). When one thinks about Monster Munch or Twiglets, a meal deal with a sandwich and apple comes to mind. This exhibition transforms the space into a dystopic government office with rented-out furniture. Food that represents practicality, bright colours, and even Jewell-like materials that shimmer and reflect are dispersed in the exhibition and have fully loaded names and associative meanings linked to British culture. When one thinks about Twiglets and Monster Munch – they are inherently theatrical objects, too. One more is based on realism (Twiglets), and the other is fantastical, mannered, and archetypal (Monster Munch), echoing the ‘competing’ styles in the paintings. These theatrical combinations of references suggest an uncertain scene – part archaeological dig, part Civil Service office, part gallery space.

Burton’s exhibition is a narrative of Westminster’s history of violence seen through a decorative lens, with this duality of lightness and historical gravity creating an ambivalence throughout the work. It is fun, it is dark, and it is thought-provoking. Throughout the exhibition, the extreme shifts of scale and proportion between objects in space occur in both paintings, where food or architecture are represented alternately as rationalised and proportional alongside objects with strange distortions, which, Burton says, are ‘generated by economic systems which create asymmetrical and disproportionate relationships between things’. The paintings play with Genre in different ways, collapsing many into one. The landscape formats containing a portrait of a government official, the food a kind of still life, alongside more oblique references to the Genre painting itself, make it more absurd.

Weeks after the exhibition, I have just been thinking about the layers and layers of symbols, narratives, hints, and scenarios Burton has created that left me in awe of the presentation of the intricate relationship between art, politics, and history—the exhibition Westminister Coastal can be viewed until the 2nd of March.