Hobson’s Choice: Artists Anonymous at Riflemaker

7 October 2011 By
Paul Hobson, Director, Contemporary Art Society, 2007-2013 (photo: Matthew Blaney)

Paul Hobson, Director of the Contemporary Art Society, recommends his favourite exhibition of the week.

Artists Anonymous, The Happy Show

27 September – 5 November 2011

Riflemaker, 79 Beak Street, London W1F 9SU


I have been a big fan of Artists Anonymous for years now and ‘The Happy Show’ at Riflemaker provides a welcome opportunity to see the latest body of work by this collective of art terrorists founded in Berlin in 2000. Each work is a diptych comprising one painting and one photograph, continuing their long-standing interest in the relationship between these two, flipping the formats and processes of each media to create what they call ‘photograph-paintings’. Half-obscured scenes show strange theatrical worlds that stand out from their planes in negative colour. Some are large group compositions and others off-kilter portraits of clown-like subjects. ‘Backyard Venus’ is a stunning piece. The works are personal – depicting members of the collective, their families – and yet archetypal, presenting characters in a range of ambiguous, fetishist scenarios overtly staged for voyeuristic pleasure. It is this encounter between the carnivalesque and unexplained fictional narratives played out by familiar, familial characters, often in poses steeped in art historical references, that gives the viewer the impression of encountering someone else’s private dreams.

Let us know what you think of this exhibition at membership@contemporaryartsociety.org