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Aaron Broadhurst – Art at Redwing Gallery, Penzance – November 2019

These paintings are boldly outlined pop-art style images, easily recognisable with flat contrasting colours. They are unusual at the moment, especially in Penzance – not evoking the atmospheric landscape, not gestural or abstract, not lusciously painterly.
There’s a portrait of his wife Nicole, very like her despite its simplifications – arresting in its impact. There’s a tin of mackerel on a plate, a lifeboat, an upended car and some guns.

On referring to the list of works, priced £900 to £1,400, I find out the mackerel refers humorously to the popular William Scott image in the Tate of mackerel not in a tin. The car refers to the child abuser Jimmy Saville’s car, a man said in the provided note to be a spiritual adviser to the Prince of Wales.
The gun refers to one used by a white racist who killed nine African Americans in South Carolina, and the gun is said to have been his birthday present.Image result for Aaron Broadhurst - Art at Redwing Gallery, Penzance - November 2019
So I learn that the artist is politically engaged, that his pictures have meaningful references – but without the notes I wouldn’t have got these references. Without the notes these are paintings that might be glamorising the gun, just picturing a car crash, illustrating a tin of fish and portraying a woman’s face.
It’s a problem – how to make comments on issues through art. It’s difficult. This artist paints confidently and makes an impact, but the actual images do not convey the ideas that motivate him and which he documents to make the viewer aware of them.
Banksy manages to get the whole message over in the image. Maybe Aaron doesn’t want to do this, he wants the first impact and then sometimes a second meaning from reading about it.

Mary Fletcher

Volume 34 no 3 January – February 2020 p 23

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