Brit Art Beware The First Stuckist International Is Here

By David Prudames | 12 August 2002
New Olympia by Eamon Everall.

New Olympia, Eamon Everall. © Eamon Everall

David Prudames visited the east London art scene's latest addition

The First Stuckist International, on until October 6, is the inaugural exhibition at the newly opened Stuckism International Centre in London.

For three and a half years Stuckism, founded by Charles Thomson and Billy Childish, has lambasted the celebrity world of Brit Art, picketed the Turner Prize and provoked the ire of Tate Director Sir Nicholas Serota in its quest for artistic authenticity.

Sir Nicholas Serota Makes an Acquisitions Decision by Charles Thomson.

Sir Nicholas Serota Makes an Acquisitions Decision, Charles Thomson. © Charles Thomson

This exhibition of Stuckist work from around the world at a purpose built gallery lays the movement's foundations and states it is here to stay.

Inspired by Tracey Emin's description of former boyfriend Childish's work - "Your paintings are stuck, you are stuck! Stuck! Stuck Stuck!" - Stuckism and its manifesto emerged in 1999.

Carole Lesley with Michaelangelo Figures by Paul Harvey.

Carole Lesley with Michaelangelo Figures, Paul Harvey. © Paul Harvey

The group was founded, as Charles Thomson explained, through, "Dissatisfaction by artists who felt that art had taken the wrong course and become a commercial marketing exercise."

The glamour of Young British Artists and the conceptual art behind them is anathema: "Success to the Stuckist is to get out of bed in the morning and paint."

Divine by Ella Guru.

Divine, Ella Guru. © Ella Guru

This show, from Thomson's work to that of Pittsburgh, Melbourne and Ivory Coast Stuckists, re-affirms the original manifesto endorsement of painting as the most viable contemporary art form. Furthermore, it underlines a commitment to content, meaning and communication.

"The exhibition is very much a continuation of what has gone before, but it is saying 'this is what we do' from our perspective," Thomson explained.

Wolf Howard on Drums by Wolf Howard.

Wolf Howard on Drums, Wolf Howard. © Wolf Howard

Varying in style and standard The First Stuckist International proves the group's manifesto is a declaration of intent, not a set of rules: "This show has got 30 artists, so the public can see that stylistically we are not prescriptive" said Thomson.

"What is in common is communication, imagination, thought, industry and meaning: a kind of straight forwardness. People paint something because it means something to them and they want to show it in a way which has some force, which will make an impression."

Goodbye Colombus by Ella Guru.

Goodbye Colombus, Ella Guru. © Ella Guru

Mandy McCartin's Charity Shop and Tube Girls, portray gritty London life in brash glory echoing Thomson's words. Likewise, Jane Kelly's subtle It Could Be A Problem, Joe Machine's striking portraits and Eamon Everall's vivid compositions.

Ella Guru's realism is juxtaposed with Charles Thomson's irreverent humour, while Remy Noe's use of colour and texture evokes a kind of modern Impressionism.

The works are very different, but what they all do - and this is the exhibition's lasting impression - is communicate.

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