Art review: Leo Fitzmaurice - Post Match

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Posted by: Creative Times on July 13, 2011 10:01

Liverpool-based artist Leo Fitzmaurice’s new exhibition Post Match – featuring cigarette packets made into football shirts – opened just a few days after he was shortlisted for this year’s Northern Art Prize. Creative Times dispatched Man U supporter and enthusiastic smoker Phil Griffin to take a look.

Now that we are all living longer, we have more time to consider shows such as Post Match, Leo Fitzmaurice’s beautiful assembly of discarded fag packets in the downstairs gallery at Manchester’s Cube.

There are a number of bespoke display cabinets, the likes of which used to exhibit butterflies or arrowheads in Manchester Museum or Pitt Rivers. Glass-topped tables, each labelled according to the countries of origin of its contents, house the tops of cigarette packets. Just the tops. Deconstructed and folded flat, their likeness to mini-football jerseys of the modern era is uncanny. The modern era being that of sponsorship and branding.

I’m presuming that, while strolling along a street in Shanghai, the artist spotted a cigarette packet damply splayed, and thought, “That looks exactly like the new Tranmere away strip”.

And there you have it. Leo Fitzmaurice is a master of re-presentation; of deconstructing context and heading off on another narrative, or other such art-related nomenclature. I’m presuming that one day, while gazing at the floor of a café in Sao Paulo, or strolling, head-down, along a street in Shanghai, the artist spotted a besmirched cigarette packet damply splayed, and thought, “That looks exactly like the new Tranmere away strip”. And there, or thereabouts, began a new obsession.

It is not long before cigarettes in this country will be sold from under the counter, in identical plain brown packets, be they Camel Lights or Peel Orange Menthol (both of which are collected here).

For better or worse, the tobacco industry is global, so too the game of football. Both have been pulled and pushed about by forces our robustly smoking grandfathers would barely recognise. Leo Fitzmaurice, Liverpool based, much-travelled artist, gathers together far more than street litter in this piece. The Chinese and Japanese ‘room’ is like a trophy cupboard, so gold and silver-embossed is their packaging. Make of that what you will.

To be honest, I didn’t get much of the pleasure of football or tobacco products from the piece. So saying, there’s a certain graphic intensity and a smiling acknowledgement that will follow you around the room. This is whimsy and thoughtfulness at once. And it is another in the line-up that makes Creative Director Jane Anderson’s Cube gallery one of the best in town.

Post Match continues at Cube gallery, Manchester, until Aug 20. cube.org.uk

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