pavements. But it was also a reaction against his contemporaries‘ trend for abstract paintings. ‘We were living through Thatcherism. and Newcastle was a very striking place to live during those times.‘ he explains. ‘I wanted to comment on the refusal to deal with what was out there.‘
Unlike Gilbert and George ~ the terrible twins of London‘s art scene ~ Weston makes no attempt to aesthetisise body fluids. But the spattering effect is a sly allusion to Jackson Pollock and the Abstract Expressionist movement. in which booze and machismo also played a major part. Also in the show is Pigeon. which refers to the bird both as skyborne scavenger and as symbol of a dignified. non-macho. working-class pursuit. Other works include ll’lu'n T/H’ Dust Sell/cs. which uses cross-sections of miners’ diseased lungs. hung eighteen inches off the floor — viewers of these innater beautiful images are forced to stoop as if in a coalmine.
Uncomfortable contortions also feature in Ayscough’s cod-pornography: scuddy photographs of himself in archetypal female porn model poses. The title. Classic NIH/(’3‘. is a wry reference to classical nude paintings.
but the images are clearly a sardonic parody of
‘top-shelf‘ magazine imagery.
Ayscough's show was also intended to include "l‘he Most Beautiful Work Of Art In The World. Ever" a display of pages from Men Only — until the publisher went limp on Ayscough and pulled out. The piece has been
replaced with "fire Most Beautiful Work ()f . a sheet of paper
Art In The World. liver 2‘ equal in size to the original piece. which explains the circumstances. 'I thought it was a great piece of pop art because it had everything in it.‘ says 34-year-old Ayscough. who lives in lidinburgh. ‘liverything that the media want us to believe is “lad culture” whatever that means.’
The show also includes two large canvases bearing come-on slogans. painted by Ayscough under the pseudonym of l .ucy Shaw which. as he states. 'changes the meaning quite a lot'. like much of his work. the series betrays a deep-seated mistrust of the sexual roles thrust upon men 7 and women - by the media. "l'here are some pretty clever people ottt there.’ says Ayscough. "l‘hey know exactly what they're doing.‘
So can images like those by Weston and Ayscough help re-define our inasculinity'.’ The short answer is that the issues are so broad. so varied and so elusive that no piece of art can do much more than chip at its surface. But make no mistake -— if pigs sprout wings and the Scotland squad make it to that final in Paris. laddish behaviour will be declared mandatory.
Geoff Weston's Bad Form is at Stills Gallery, Edinburgh until Saturday 20 June.
John Ayscough's work is shown in tandem with Chad McCail's at Collective Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sunday 31 May.
ART & MALE IDENTITY
this is a man's world: (left) Pigeon, Geoff Weston's idealisation of a working-class icon; and (below left)
Bad Taste, his study of vomit on the streets of Newcastle Below: Dead Or What?, John Ayscough’s critique of media depictions of violence, and Hello Boys By Lucy Shaw, in which Ayscough adopts a female persona to question the role of sexual allure in advertising
m. 28 May 1998 THE usr 19