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The art of Merlin Carpenter embraces sudden shifts of style and emphasis. He paints, but doubt is created as to whether any particular medium is the solution. Despite this there is a default setting in the work which reappears when all else fails: Pop Art, direct appropriation. The four paintings in this show depict members of the rock group Mansun and look like hand painted rip-offs of mid-70s Andy Warhol silkscreens. However the source is actually cover art by Pete Nevin from the 1998 single Being a Girl (Part One).


These paintings are not quite as easy as they appear. Look more closely and you will find yourself sucked into a kind of social history of the 90s. Mansun (1995-2003) were a big group for a while off the back of Britpop, but their ambitious musical productions went bonkers and moreover were deliberately ruined with irony. Each album contradicted and voided the last. B-sides were more important than A-sides. Theirs was a context-specific critique embedded within the music industry and directed against its idea of success, leading them from No. 1 to obscurity. However, soon enough Mansun will be rediscovered by the music press. Carpenter's only chance to deal with this information is now, whilst they are still failures. To an extent he is helping bring them back within the fold, but without any benefit to himself or them this resembles the last gasp of a temporary negative strategy.


The works in the show repeat a specific history: from Richard Avedon's solarised posters of The Beatles, to Warhol's Mick Jagger prints, to the cover of Talk Talk Talk by The Psychedelic Furs (1981); and more recently Julian Opie's gormless images of Blur, and Jeremy Deller's use of Manic Street Preachers fans. Music and art have merged, but badly. It only seems to work when art provides the icon for a given belief in music. However, in the case of Carpenter and Mansun their respective conflictual stances towards the marketisation of knowledge erase both sides of the crossover.


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