The Buck stopped here

The Buck stopped here is a weekly blog by our contemporary art correspondent Louisa Buck covering the hottest events and must-see exhibitions in London and beyond

Linder's lascivious photomontages conjure up an analogue era at Stuart Shave

Linder, The Goddess Who Helps to Cross The Sea of Misery (2019) Photo courtesy of Louisa Buck. © Linder and Modern Art, London

Anyone trying to Instagram Linder’s current exhibition of photomontages, Ever standing apart from everything, at Stuart Shave's gallery Modern Art (until 16 March) should proceed with caution. For despite her adjustment of images culled from vintage pornography using strategically-placed cut-out flowers, furniture or even confectionary to complicate and—ahem—deflate some of the more explicit elements, the blunt instrument of the ever-vigilant Insta algorithm is resolutely oblivious to the subversive humour of this exceptional artist’s provocative visual punning.

A slyly symbolic rosebud masking the area of genital contact on the collaged cover of the wonderfully titled publication Lewd Lezzies was not enough to save the work from electronic rejection. Never mind then that the fountain of liquid paint rearing up between the frolicking pair of couples in a swimming pool is utterly abstract and directly influenced by the automatic painting techniques of British Surrealist Ithell Colquhoun in her 1949 essay Mantic States—its phallic contours also made it an immediate Insta no-no.

Linder (left) with Louisa Buck © Louisa Buck

Overall, Linder’s work stands as testament to a rich and subtle vision that belongs to a bygone analogue era with the source material for her humourous, elegantly critical works bearing witness to an earlier nuanced aesthetic awareness that even permeated hardcore pornography. As Linder herself was pointing out at last week’s opening, the elegant poses and lighting of much of her accumulated material from the 1960s to the 1980s bears witness to the classical training of many of these photographers that has not translated to the internet or even what is left of today’s print porn.

This underlying aesthetic, along with some bizarre activities outlined in a somewhat quaint vernacular, were both attracting considerable comment from the opening night crowd. Alex Farquharson, the director of the Tate Britain, and Jennifer Higgie, the editor of Frieze magazine, were among those speculating on the phrases "Apartment Wrestling" which along with "Hussies Grappling" and "Cat Fighting" were salaciously advertised in a work incorporating a cover of the adversarial-sounding adults-only Claws magazine. Also taking a keen interest in this magazine cover series was the director of Kettles Yard Andrew Nairne who is presenting a full scale Linder survey in the gallery early next year. Whether any of these elements will be featuring in the Kettles Yard show and accompanying performance remains to be seen.

To find out more, read our interview with Linder here

  • Linder: Ever standing apart from everything, Modern Art, London, 1 February-16 March.