Designer and artist Jamie Shovlin has re-imagined 17 covers from the iconic Fontana Modern Masters Series for his forthcoming show at the Haunch of Venison gallery.
The show, entitled “Various Arrangements”, is an exhibition of new works by the British conceptual artist Jamie Shovlin and presents a series of seventeen new and large-scale paintings based on the cover designs of the Fontana Modern Masters series. The series is a set of pocket guides published in the 1970s which focuses on key writers and thinkers such as Freud, Kafka and Proust. The paintings produced by Shovlin in the show represent titles that were scheduled for publication but for reasons unknown reasons did not appear. Sholvin, “driven by a fascination of the ambition and appearance of the Fontana series, and a longstanding interest in typography and graphic design”, devised a system using a colour wheel to allow him to produce paintings of each of these unknown a and ‘lost’ book covers.
Shovlin is a British conceptual artist working in a variety of medial he studied at the Royal College of Art between 2001 and 2003. His work is “Concerned with the obscure relationship between reality and personal truth”, (via artwelove.com) and his works include installation, painting, performance, drawing and printmaking.
His solo exhibitions include Haunch of Venison, London in 2007, Tate Britain, London in 2006, and Freight & Volume, New York in 2006. He also exhibited in a group exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery, London in 2004.
Fontana Modern Masters as a series of pocket guides focussed on the key philosophers and cultural theorists whose concepts and ideas were the driving force behind the intellectual landscape of the 20th century. The initial five titles came out in 1970, published by Fontana Books, the paperback imprint of William Collins & Co, edited by academic and critic Frank Kermode. Says Kermode “By Modern Masters we mean the men who have changed and are changing the life and thought of our age. Everybody wants to know who they are and what they say, but hitherto it has often been very difficult to find out. This series makes it easy. Each volume is clear, concise and authoritative. Nothing else can offer in such an acceptable form, an assured grasp of these revolutionary thinkers. The authors are themselves masters, and they have written their books in the belief that general discussion of their subjects will henceforth be more informed and more exciting than ever before. “
Considered design classics, the Fontana Modern Masters series are instantly and easily recognizable from their vivid geometric cover image on the cover. The books were published in six sets, each set with its own cover design. Shevlin used a colour wheel and points based criteria to predict the colours and pattern that might have gone to make up the cover design of the unpublished books; criteria included the number of pages in the book, the number of other Modern Master texts cited in the bibliography, and whether they were a Nobel Prize winner. A total “score” was interpreted by the artist to indicate both the potential popularity and intellectual weight of each Modern Master book but also the colour and composition of the new cover designs.
In this way Jamie Shevlin explores design icons with an experimental and conceptual art approach, resulting in large scale works which reflect the iconography of the publications and stand alone as artworks themselves.
Various arrangements,18 April – 26 May 2012
Haunch of Venison, 103 New Bond Street, London