Evoking a feeling or eliciting a response using language and text as a primary communication device in contemporary art has been important since cubists inserted lettering into painted works, Magritte told the world “Ceci n’est pas une pipe.”, and conceptualists in the 1960’s such a Joseph Kosuth used wording in place of traditional means of art-making. In Sympathy for Characters four artists, two American and two British, utilise text in various ways to drive home points of interest.
Ed Ruscha brings to the fore the feeling of Los Angeles as a city, as an experience, evoking smog and the intensity often associated with the city. Jonas Wood, another LA-based artist, urges the viewer to become politically active through a clear message softened with active colouring and his easily recognisable and recurring basketball. The sense of familiarity and confidence in both these works provides the viewer immediate association.
Using humour and subtlety David Shrigley implores the viewer to act in a certain way and thus doing so reveals that as human beings we do not always behave kindly to our fellow man or woman and this is to be reflected on. Similarly humorous is Harland Miller’s use of a well recognised publishing house to explore his place in contemporary life and a dismissal of required action, he asks the viewer to do as they please and forget what society expects of them.
Jonas Wood Vote, 2018 6-colour screen print on Coventry rag paper 40 x 25.4 cm