Keith Coventry b.1958
North Peckham Estate 1992
Oil on canvas, wood and glass 42 ¼ x 30 ⅜ inches (107.3 x 77.4 cm)
Karsten Schubert; Private Collection.
Keith Coventry: Ivory Tower, Karsten Schubert, London, 30 April-30 May 1992.
Keith Coventry shot to fame with his Estate paintings, and this is an important early example that was among the first that he made. At first sight the Estate Paintings appear to be pure abstracts in the style of 'Suprematist' abstract modernist painters such as Malevich and Rodchenko. Their frames, which are part of the work and made by the Artist, are copies of the frames Mondrian designed and used. However, the apparently abstract designs are actually copies of the maps found outside post-War public housing projects. Coventry is in some ways a history painter, and these works address the tension between Modernist aesthetics and idealist social ideologies and the reality of - in this case - the North Peckham Estate, a vast and alienating archipelago of tower blocks.
In an interview Coventry explained: 'I'm interested really in looking at aspects of art history and grafting on to them some kind of social issue, so that the two seem to make a comment upon the other. I've looked at the Russian Constructivists – Malevich and so on – and how they tried to create a world that was pure through their work, but they actually failed at doing that. They set up a kind of revolution in terms of ideas about mass housing, and that led to the sort of social problems that we have now through the construction of those schemes’.
Coventry was at the heart of the YBA group of artists in the early late 1980s and 1990s. He was also with Paul Noble curator of City Racing, a disused Kennington betting shop in which they held exhibitions of their work from 1988-98 as well as important shows by Gillian Wearing and Sarah Lucas. Tate holds the City Racing archive, and in 2006 purchased a group of Coventry's Estate Paintings