This summer, the Milton Keynes Art Gallery is hosting an exhibition of art by the acclaimed Norwegian artist and graphic novelist, Pushwagner. To run alongside the exhibition, they will also be putting on a number of events including, on the evening 19th July, a Small Press Comic Fair called MKomix which is being organised by comic creator Paul Rainey.
“MKomix will feature some of the best UK based comic creators displaying and selling their work,” Paul tells us. “The fair will take place in the gallery amidst the Pushwagner exhibition itself. Best of all, it is free to enter and, if you’re a creator, free to exhibit.
“Currently, small press comics are one of the most vibrant, creative and diverse artistic scenes taking place in the UK and MKomix is your opportunity to sample just some of what is going on.”
Pushwagner: Soft City (28th June – 2nd September 2012) is the first solo exhibition outside Norway by the visionary artist Hariton Pushwagner (born Oslo, 1940). Since the recent discovery of his work, Pushwagner has become a celebrity in his home nation, appearing regularly in newspaper headlines and television talk shows, renowned for his homelessness and hedonistic lifestyle, and compared to a modern day Edvard Munch.
Pushwagner’s defining creation is the graphic novel Soft City, an epic satire of capitalism and life in the modern metropolis, produced intermittently in Oslo and London between 1969 and 1976. His work also takes the form of intricate and obsessively detailed paintings, presenting a personal mythology of a world under perpetual siege from pollution, totalitarianism and mass destruction.
At MK Gallery a tightly focussed presentation of Pushwagner’s early work will be shown in three distinct groupings; Soft City, Family of Man and Apocalypse Frieze. In addition, Pushwagner’s design for an enormous Pop Art inspired mouth will be realised in the form of a mural surrounding MK Gallery’s main entrance.
Visitors will have to step onto its projecting tongue and enter the cavernous mouth to reach the exhibition beyond.
The 154-page graphic novel Soft City provides an account of mechanical, daily life in a dehumanized, dystopian modern city. Completed in 1976, the humdrum lives of Pushwagner’s characters allude to George Gurdjieff’s descriptions of people in a state of ‘waking sleep’. The menacing controller in charge of life in Soft City and the pills the family swallows on a daily basis evoke Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
Following its presentation in Milton Keynes, the exhibition will tour to Haugar Vestfold Kunstmuseum, Norway, and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, in the Netherlands.
MK Gallery’s Pushwagner exhibition coincides with the exhibition Edvard Munch: The Modern Eye at Tate Modern (28 June – 14 October). The Pushwagner exhibition will be complemented at MK Gallery by a substantial Norwegian Season of video, music and performance events with around fifty Norwegian artists and curators.
A substantial monograph on Pushwagner will accompany the exhibition. It includes commissioned texts from Lars Bang Larsen, Martin Herbert, Natalie O’Donnell, Will Bradley and Peter Mæjlender. Published by Art / Books. ISBN: 978-1-908970-00-8.
– Details about Milton Keynes Art Gallery can be found at www.mkgallery.org/. The Milton Keynes Art Gallery is situated across the road from The Centre: MK, next to the Theatre. Nearby, there are lots of pubs, clubs and restaurants and is a short bus journey from the train station. After 6.00pm most of the parking nearby is free.