Mick Peter at Drawing Room

Pyramid Selling 

Drawing Room has moved to a new site in the same building as the former Bermondsey Project in Southwark. This inaugural exhibition in the space shows a body of work by Mick Peter first commissioned by Glasgow’s Tramway. 

There are two contrasting themes in the exhibition — large life-size blown up cartoons, caricatures of labourers and the boss, referencing the title and the even larger and more arresting giant red zips, often shown as merchandise. The fastenings lounge and lean, fail and join around the gallery propped up on grey pseudo-concrete blocks; another knowing nod to the title as they climb to the ceiling.

The tabloid red has a similar effect to much of Anish Kapoor’s sculptures; you see colour before form. In contrast to the ex-light industrial space and the frame work of simple angular grey supports, these zips take on human form, their stance, or lack of it, imbibing each with more quirks and personality. They are more immediately laughable and human in scale than Claes Oldenburg’s monumental works, some of his clothes’ pegs larger than a house but they share a similar light perversity. 

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Mick’s figures are both more and less figurative than the zips. His cartoon workers are realised in a two dimensional fashion in a three dimensional world. They begin, off site, as tiny drawings —hence of course the appropriate nature of being exhibited here — and then are enlarged, warts and all, to give a relaxed rendition with lines of wavering certainty or speed. These blow ups are then reproduced in pigment resin, ensuring it is within the surface of the plaster of Paris casts that the figures exist. That each of these forms is perhaps ten centimetres thick, it comes as a little surprise to see the same mirrored drawing on each reverse.

Given that these figures inhabit a limbo of dimensions, they have all been given a fold for support. As any DIY enthusiast would know to stack sheets of MDF against a wall, here the characters are self-supporting and so need a hand. Or as maybe, a leg. 

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Where the motifs work together is once again, back with the title of the show. The workers cart and handle, review and access the goods. There is a manager looking down on his staff, and looking up to his sales figures recorded on a table. The zips are either complicit or reluctant in their pose and associations with commerce, manufacturing, exploitation and the art world itself are all easily made. 

https://drawingroom.org.uk/exhibitions/mick-peter-pyramid-selling until 13th March