Let Us Prey at Beach London

2012-4-12

This small exhibition of heavy metal inspired work by French (just the one name) is wonderfully presented if somewhat lacking in ambition.

French's art is very traditional both in terms of its technique and in terms of its subject matter. The images are presented cleanly and with a high degree of precision, in stark, black-on-white illustrations. This presentation moves the work away from both the dripping indecipherability of black metal and the over exuberance of traditional British metal. It remains very classical.

French incorporates and exploits old metal motifs: goats, pentagrams, and yes, skulls. This firm embedding in metal iconography feels somewhat limiting. While it is true that there are images of zombie terrorists that serve to update metal's horrors, that territory is already covered by GWAR's comedic metal.

It would be good to see French taking some more risks with his work, so that rather than viewing a metal image done by French, we are instead looking at French's interpretation of a metal image. The drawings of eagles, of which only a few examples are on display, and the flute player are a strong step in this direction.

Ultimately, your opinion of Let Us Prey hinges on how you generally feel about metal. If you are ambivalent, then this is unlikely to make you reassess the genre. In that case, try to remember you need Satan more than he needs you.

Let Us Prey is on at Beach London, just off Brick Lane until the 27th of May.


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