Steve McQueen

"Deadpan", 1997 (film still)
© 2018 Steve McQueen

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Steve McQueen is an important artist. You are told this continuously in the bulky press pack crammed full of weighty and incisive documents written by art world luminaries. Since graduating from Goldsmith's in 1993 McQueen hasn't been hanging around in London involving himself in art scene manouvering or fretting about advertising he has been too busy making his short films and showing them in a series of prestigious international locations. McQueen's track record and such a warm embrace by the establishment is fairly overwhelming but McQueen's work is very serious and very quality.

McQueen is not concerned about the de-materialization of the art object or with deconstructing the framework of the institution,- his work does not rely on irony or revel in abjection, he positions himself centre stage but he is not interested in autobiographical expressionism. His work avoids easy categorization and he likes moving the goal posts you're expecting a film installation but you get a sculpture, you're anticipating more high brow formalism and you get sweet faced naturalism. McQueen's meticulous attention to the language of film could be seen as the last vestige of a high modernism and all the incumbent gravitas that entails but his work deals with a presentness that activates the viewer ; his convinced determination acts as a positive and that is an achievement. McQueen's work offers you potential. He likes to keep you moving.

by Polly Staple @ ICA, London

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