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Haunch of Venison Zurich Presents Keith Coventry - Anaesthesia as Aesthetic
Keith Coventry, Collection Particuliere A41, 2007-08. Courtesy Haunch of Venison.

ZURICH.-Haunch of Venison Zurich presents Keith Coventry - Anaesthesia as Aesthetic, on view 7 March –12 April 2008. British artist Keith Coventry, whose paintings and sculptures manipulate legacies of Modernism to address conditions of contemporary urban life, is to present his first exhibition in Switzerland at Haunch of Venison Zurich this spring.

The artist’s work demonstrates an enduring interest in the dark flipside of idealism: urban decay, social failure, drug abuse, and alienation. Many of the art historical references that Coventry deploys are defined by the utopian ideals of Modernism, the aim of which was to refashion the world. Coventry plays with these beliefs and shows them to be misplaced, even misconceived, the gulf between belief and reality stimulating a series of troubling undercurrents in his work.

The exhibition will include three new and recent groups of work. Coventry’s Black Paintings, (2004-7), render Raoul Dufy’s Riviera landscapes – classic early twentieth century images redolent of the ‘good life’ of sun, privilege and luxury in the South of France - as congealed black monochromes. A group of black and white paintings, Broken Windows, (2007) portray broken windows, the archetypal symbol of urban decay, in a schematic idiom reminiscent of the British Vorticists, Bomberg and Wadsworth, artists whose work celebrated the notion of machine-age progress.

Anaesthesia as Aesthetic, (2007) is an ambitious new series of paintings which depict the apartments of early twentieth century Parisian art collectors in a reduced palette of flat colours. While the walls, furniture and floors of the interiors are painted in green and yellow, the works of art that inhabit these rarefied interiors are painted as sky blue silhouettes. In accordance with contemporary psychiatric theories these colours were used to treat the victims of shellshock in the aftermath of WWI.

Keith Coventry’s idiosyncratic and personal project to create a form of contemporary history painting encompasses an immense range of reference. His paintings and sculptures pit art history - Malevich, Rodchenko, Dufy, Morandi, and Sickert, International Modernism, Minimalism and Pop Art – against images of heroism and idealism, and dissolute decadence and aberrant behaviour. Coventry’s subjects range from the racism of the football terraces to the commodity status of the artwork, from the perfection of the proportions of a supermodel’s face to the degradation of the crack den.

Keith Coventry (b. 1958) studied at Chelsea School of Art and Design 1981-82, and has had numerous solo exhibitions in the UK, Europe and America. Coventry has been included in important group exhibitions including Diagrammatic Logic, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, 2007, Century City, Tate Modern, 2001, A Century of Innocence -The Story of the White Monochrome, Liljevalchs Konsthall, Stockholm, and Rooseum, Malmö, 2000-2001. He was included in the seminal exhibition of young British art, Sensation, at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1997, which then toured to the Hamberger Bahnhof, Berlin, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York. Coventry’s work is held in important public collections internationally including Tate, London; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Arts Council, London; British Council, London; Government Art Collection, London; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Anaesthesia as Aesthetic is Coventry’s first exhibition with Haunch of Venison.

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