Sunday, 6 May 2012


Showing between Friday 10th July and Sunday 9th August 2009 @ Weapon Of Choice Gallery, Bristol

When I was asked to review an exhibition comprising entirely of goat drawings, I had initial reservations. On finding out these were goats drawn by Stanley Donwood, any initial reservation turned to intrigue and excitement. Stanley Donwood is the pen name of writer, poet and artist Dan Rickwood. Since 1996 he has collaborated with Thom Yorke on Radiohead’s posters and album art and has since come to be referred to as the sixth member of Radiohead.

From the outside of the new Weapon Of Choice Gallery, a ram’s head attached to a pub dartboard casts a menacing glare over the street. As soon as you walk into the modest but well heeled gallery space, you can’t help but be taken aback by the multitude of coloured gloss clinging to the wall in all its primary glory surrounding 13 gloriously grotesque goats dressed in suits and ties. Are they bankers, city workers or decision makers? Maybe all of the above, maybe none.

All have a goat’s head. Some have the mouth of a shark, others a roaring lion. Each piece is meticulously hand rendered and then using screen printing with a few Photoshop tweaks, applied to a thin paper and pasted onto plywood. Finally thick paint is dripped onto each board. The goats are lined up on the semi-paneled gallery wall with names like Goat Godwin, V11 or Goat Hornby 11, these pictures resemble the portraits of retired bankers that one might imagine lining The Bank Of England offices.
The images on the walls are quite overbearing, perhaps a comment on these cash strapped times where bankers could be seen as grotesque beings who take everything. Or as the artist puts it; “I’ve simply discovered if I draw a goat, give it the mouth of a rapacious carnivore then dress it in the suit and tie of a disgraced banker or politician, it looks fucking evil”.

Donwood calls these creation Pan Demons. In his words a pan demon is a; “Feral carnivorous parasite, feasting ingloriously in the remains of late-western consumer capitalism”.
In response to the rather obvious are they a political statement question: “I’ve started drawing these things and I don’t know why. I can’t stop. Everyone is revolted by naked, slavering greed, these fucking bastards are the embodiment of that”.
Stanley Donwood has had a long standing fixation with horned gods, minotaurs, little inked monsters and dark biro scribbled landscapes. You only have to look at the artwork he produced for Radiohead’s album Amnesiac.

Overall the exhibition is an impressive display of a master thinker and scribbler. Maybe it will make you smile in these media hyped, recession obsessed times. If you are not au fait with Donwood’s style and fantastically dark mind, this would be a great visual awakening.

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