Presented at at Bury Art Museum and Sculpture Centre and curated by artist John Walter,Shonky: The Aesthetics of Awkwardness explores the nature of visual awkwardness through the work of artists and architects Arakawa and Gins, Cosima von Bonin, Niki de Saint Phalle, Benedict Drew, Justin Favela, Duggie Fields, Louise Fishman, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Kate Lepper, Andrew Logan, Plastique Fantastique, Jacolby Satterwhite, Tim Spooner and John Walter.
Shonky is a slang term meaning corrupt or bent, shoddy or unreliable, standing here for a particular type of visual aesthetic that is hand-made, deliberately clumsy and lo-fi, against the slick production values of much contemporary art. The exhibition offers a more celebratory definition of ‘shonkiness’, showing how it can be used for critical purposes in the visual arts to explore issues including gender, identity, beauty and the body. By drawing together artists and architects whose work has not previously been exhibited together or discussed within the same context, Shonky allows for new ways of thinking that privilege shonkiness over other aesthetic forms that have dominated recent visual culture.
In a series of conceptual rooms, Shonky explores this aesthetic across a range of media including paintings, sculpture, video, architecture and performance. Works include Andrew Logan’s maximalist mirrored sculptures of pop culture icons such as Divine, Molly Parkin and Fenella Fielding, a selection of paintings and lo-fi video work by pioneering artist and filmmaker Duggie Fields, and a series of small, totemic statues and works on paper by Niki de Saint Phalle. The exhibition also offers UK audiences a rare chance to see a selection of major works by American artist Louise Fishman, whose abstract works densely layer color and texture into large-scale paintings.