In the gallery foyer a torn and grubby football perches on top of a rusty lamp post like a head on a spike. With hexagons of polyester pressed in to form mournful eyes and pulled out for a lolling tongue, If Socks Aren’t Pulled Up Heads Will Roll by Richard Hughes (b.1974) introduces an exhibition that aims to explore emotional and psychological reactions to urban space, particularly modernist architecture. On the first floor is another large sculpture by Hughes, Lithobolia Happy Meal, which, suspended from the ceiling, echoes the form of a children’s nursery mobile, replete with chicken-nugget-shaped boulders and a pale aqua space hopper. It is a sculpture redolent with 1970s and 1980s nostalgia, made monstrous by dint of scale, context and subtle movement. Hughes’s work is by far the most playful in Horror in the Modernist Block at Ikon, Birmingham, as the exhibition is less concerned with the horror genre as it pertains to film or literature than the actualities of real-life horror stories. The exhibition has no doubt been affected by the stark surrealism of the pandemic, empty urban streets and multiple domestic lockdowns, but other recent news and events radically shape the reception of specific works.
Read the review in full via Burlington Contemporary.
Published 25 January 2023.
Horror in the Modernist Block
25th November 2022–1st May 2023