REVIEW ARTICLE:PETER KENNARD OFF MESSAGE AT THE MAC ARTS CENTRE BIRMINGHAM CANNON HILL PARK BIRMINGHAM B12 9QH.SATURDAY 24TH SEPTEMBER 2016 -SUNDAY 27TH NOVEMBER 2016. REVIEWER: LAURENCE HUMPHRIES

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I recently made a visit to Birmingham to visit my younger brother who luckily took me to an exhibition at the Mac Arts centre in Birmingham to view Peter Kennard’s Exhibition  OFF MESSAGE. The Mac through its literature and publications gives an insight into Kennard’s work.

” Peter Kennard is widely regarded as Britain’s most important political Artist. with a practice spanning almost 50 years his distinctive photo montages have been published extensively in Newspapers and magazines and deployed on placards by activist groups and organisations throughout the UK”. [1].

Kennard of course is active in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament as well as providing ammunition against Imperialist war. His photomontages attacks politicians who engage in Imperialist war, particularly Tony Blair and George Bush.

His use of photo montage is a great art form  which was first used by the Cubists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque as well as Dada artists like John Heartfield George Groz and Hannah Hoch the great German Revolutionary artists who  used photomontage as a means of attacking Imperialism in the  First world war.

” The photomontage is an effective instrument to make visible and address the inequalities and horrors in contemporary society. it is only through confronting the world as it is says Kennard that we can suggest a possible world that isn’t but could be”.[2].

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Photomontage. Maggie Thatcher cuts healthcare 1985

There is no doubt that Capitalist politicians learn nothing from Imperialist war ,with the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States we face an historic responsibility and that is for Imperialism to be overthrown and replaced by Socialism where we can put an end to Imperialist War for ever. It exposes both Labour and Tory politicians in Britain most noticeable are Tony  Blair and Margaret Thatcher  War Criminals of incredible magnitude. Kennard is to be congratulated for exposing  their war mongering.

The Mac now conducts an interview with Kennard on  his exhibition OFF MESSAGE.

”  Some of my work from nearly 50 years ago is just as relevant now as it was then. It means the gap between the obscene amount spent globally on weapons  as against the paltry amount spent globally on poverty has increased is increasing and will continue to increase”. [3].

” I was born four years after the atom bombs destroyed Hiroshima and Nagaski. The work begins with images relating to the event , then to the Vietnam war right up to the present with photomontages on Syria and the millions of Refugees escaping for their lives from War torn countries in the Middle east”.[4].

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Kennard tries to shock people into  understanding  the role of Imperialist war and the consequences in Society and its total destructive consequences when Human life is  destroyed and becomes of  no consequence in this modern Globally capitalist world. As Karl Marx  and Frederich Engels said in the Communist Manifesto of 1848 the task is to change it.

”  I don’t believe art itself can change the world but when it is aligned with campaigning and pressure groups it can become the visual arm of protest and communicate directly to people”.[5].

” This arts centre has a creative energy that encourages people to open up to ideas so that they can become creators rather than consumers.it demonstrates that the arts if they are publicly , can be an integral part of our lives”. [6].

” My images are deeply critical of all the status quos that condemn billions to live in poverty while making billions of their backs. Its art as an early warning system or a late early warning system we’ve got to hurry”. [7].

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Finally Peter Kennard recommends Agit prop or street art in creating the message of opposition to Imperialist war.

” Street art which is created all over the world has taken on great importance in the struggle of the voiceless against political regimes”.[8].

Although I am not a pacifist this Exhibition by Peter Kennard at the Mac arts Centre is worth seeing and I would strongly recommend it as a brilliant visual insight into the role of Imperialist war and its devastating consequences. The Exhibition closes on the 27th November 2016 so there is time for anyone to make a visit.

FOOTNOTES

  1. LEAFLET ADVERTISING THE EXHIBITION
  2. INTERVIEW WITH PETER KENNARD BY THE CURATOR OF THE MAC ARTS CENTRE CRAIG ASHLEY.
  3. DITTO
  4. DITTO
  5. DITTO
  6. DITTO
  7. DITTO
  8. DITTO

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