John Chilver : The Scene of Instruction

18 Jun-18 Jul 2021


'The Scene of Instruction' a solo exhibition of new paintings, banners and a video, John Chilver refers to histories of thinkers and makers that have employed mathematical operators as part of a rhetorical strategy. He cites Lenin’s “communism = the Soviets + electrification”, Le Corbusier’s “firmness + commodity = delight” and J G Ballard’s “the future = sex x technology squared” as examples of this particular mode of presenting social ideas as algebraic data. Similarly, Chilver’s slogan equations – the combination of a poetically open instruction within a possibly empirical framework – appear to artistically elevate and thereby critically undermine the processes by which we determine that which is or isn’t. Worked into surreal, compelling figurative narratives on canvas and printed large-scale onto fabric, his expressions are staged in ways that encourage the viewer to think as much about the potential meaning of the content as the context for its delivery. While certain of Chilver’s works seem to offer active statements on the current state of things, others use the inequality symbol as allegorical hinge, to highlight a lack of parity between the two halves of the ‘equation’.