John Squire – Noise, SW1 Gallery, viewed on 09/10/2008

7 Feb

 

The SW1 Gallery is situated in an extremely smart, newly developed area near Victoria – all sleek glass and metal, and sexy curves. As myself and Faye – my plus one, and keyboardist with London-based band, Prince Edward Island – approached the gallery, I picked out the figure of John Squire inside, his lank, long hair the easy giveaway, even from a distance.

A few words were exchanged with the doorstaff – I hadn’t brought my invite, and they couldn’t find me on the guestlist, but they still let us past – and we were in. Looking around, it was difficult deciding which was the most important of three things inside, and which to head for first – John Squire himself, the paintings, or the vast quantities of free booze on tables to our left. Really, a preposterous amount – probably about 30 bottles of Havana rum, about 40 bottles of both read and white wine, about the same number of some interesting-looking bottled beer, and about 80 bottles of soft drinks, probably smoothies.

We had a quick gander at a couple of paintings, before we caved in, and got ourselves each a glass of red wine, though taking a whole bottle would have easily gone unnoticed!

This was the third John Squire exhibition I’d been to, but this was by far the best, quite daring and adventurous in places, and with a lot of variety. The title of the exhibition was Noise, which you might think is an appropriate title for an exhibition of paintings by a musician, but I didn’t really feel the paintings were portraying or depicting music. The majority of the paintings were covered in words, with loads of short phrases scattered fairly chaotically, so you could say the paintings quite literally spoke to you! The paintings exuded noise, like the chatter in a busy pub, in a way that paintings don’t ordinarily. It brought to mind a television which would allow you to also smell what was on the screen; these were paintings that you could “hear”.

The interesting thing about the words was that you could only read most of them by going quite close up to them, whereas the best vantage point to view the paintings – especially in the case of the landscape paintings – was from a good few feet back.

Faye commented that the words were a bit like song lyrics. I have to say, I didn’t quite get this myself – they were mostly fairly formless and stuctureless, slightly chaotic, as with their arrangement on each canvas. I kind of got the impression with some of them that if the words represented the artist himself, they showed him to be quite insecure and unsure of himself, but I’m not sure if this really is how John Squire feels.

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