Icarus and K Pop: Derek Boshier

6 October - 13 November 2021
  • British Pop-Art Pioneer Derek Boshier Revisits Greek Mythology at Gazelli Art House During Frieze Week. David Bowie and The Clash collaborator unveils two dozen new works in solo exhibition inspired by classical folktales and Korean pop music.


    This exhibition is dedicated to Guy Brett

  • " I, like all artists, face the dilemma that all artists face. That is when you start a new series of works: What am I going to do next? Do I continue what I was doing before? Do I continue with variations? Do I start something totally different?’ So in my case I thought, right! First of all I know the concept which is K-Pop. Next. And I thought- it just so happens I was thinking about artists and reviews, and artists being discussed. What happened is, my good friend and art critic Guy Brett, who died last year, was giving a lecture on my work. I was sitting there, and the point about reviews and lectures is… The most interesting reviews are things in which you learn something about your work. And Guy Brett, in the lecture, said although Derek is a narrative artist, it’s quite clear that he is influenced by abstract art. And I remember that concept and thought, in this new series, I will probably make these new paintings a smaller format - or a simpler format, and bringing elements of abstraction into it. So that was one of the first things. So then I think, well what else am I going to do? And when I start a series of paintings, I like to set myself an agenda beyond the actual concept. And so the second thing I added was, that I would do something that I would not normally do in an exhibition and that is make every painting a different colour sequence. So that was number two. Number three, I had over a hundred images of K-Pop that I had shot from television. I had the notion of colour and the notion of the abstract element. And then I was staring at this blank canvas just before I started and I thought, ‘no, I need something else to sort of battle with.’ And I looked to my side, and on the wall here is an image of ‘Special K,’ the Kellogg's cornflakes logo to which I’ve been associated with my early pop art paintings.


    But not only that. I have used the ‘Special K’ logo over many, many, many years. “K” is the most prominent alphabet [letter] that I have used. I’ve used it for Kellogg’s Cornflakes, I’ve used it for Ku Klux Klan, I’ve used it for various other things. Kafka… I’ve done works on Kafka. And so I thought, hang on, K is for Korea! I’ve started every single painting, putting that “K'' in, and it’s the first thing I do when I paint."


    - Derek Boshier -


  • Over five decades, Boshier’s practice has spanned painting, drawing, graphic design, film, and collage, nurturing a complex and prescient visual critique of contemporary culture. From the space race to corporate culture and the advent of digital technology, the 84-year-old artist has never ceased to deploy an innovative aesthetic language to address the concerns of our times.

  • 'In my work over the years, I have had an interest in opposites, from gender to politics and culture. The...

    Derek Boshier, In Process, 2021

    "In my work over the years, I have had an interest in opposites, from gender to politics and culture. The title of the exhibition Icarus and K Pop is functional in that it refers to two separate series. The myth of Icarus is a story of ambition and failure. These elements inform the series and are juxtaposed with modern myths. Meanwhile the second series, K Pop, is informed by elements of cultural divide, difference, and engagement. Change is basic to life along with opposites, and opposites within change are equally interesting. A colour theorist will tell you that there is no such colour as blue or red, that as soon as you put another colour next to it, it changes. The same is true of images: advertisers know this well."


    - Derek Boshier -

  • "In the “Icarus" series, what I was trying to do was contemporise the Icarus myth. If you think about the Icarus myth, it was the story of a very enlightened idea, and a total failure. That’s what the myth is from one end to the other. And so it’s quite appropriate to contemporise, because you can then bring in corporate culture, political culture, and any other aspect of modern culture."


    - Derek Boshier -

  • Derek Boshier, Icarus Goes Digital and Remembers the Extension of the Senses, 2020

    Derek Boshier

    Icarus Goes Digital and Remembers the Extension of the Senses, 2020 Acrylic on canvas
    177.8 x 152.4 cm
    70 x 60 in
  • For the artist, the falling figure – a motif which has previously appeared in his works – represents the demise of prominent society members and power structures, from military to corporate and political.

  • DEREK BOSHIER (B.1937 Portsmouth, UK) Derek Boshier is an English artist, among the first proponents of British pop art. Together...


    (B.1937 Portsmouth, UK)


    Derek Boshier is an English artist, among the first proponents of British pop art. Together with fellow students David Hockney, Allen Jones, Peter Philips and R B Kitaj, he participated in the landmark 1962 Young Contemporaries exhibition that brought Pop Art to the attention of the wider public His contribution to that scene was a strong satirical edge, which distinguished his work from his contemporaries.


    He works in various media including painting, drawing, collage, and sculpture. In the 1970s he shifted from painting to photography, film, video, assemblage, and installations, but he returned to painting by the end of the decade. Addressing the question of what shapes his work, Boshier once stated “Most important is life itself, my sources tend to be current events, personal events, social and political situations, and a sense of place and places”.


    Boshier’s work has appeared in many museum exhibitions, including at the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), Tate Britain and British Museum, Brooklyn Museum and Centre Pompidou. In recent years Boshier was the recipient of the Honorary Fellowship of the RCA (2016) as well as the Guggenheim fellowship and NEA award for the arts, he is also an accomplished teacher and lecturer.


    He lives and works in Los Angeles.