Describing his work as “testosterone-fuelled anger management,” Mark Pearson explores themes of masculinity, class, power and British identity through the rough DIY aesthetic of his sculptures. Pearson often uses German motifs as loaded provocateurs, entwining middle England’s nostalgia for war era nationalism with the skewed values of contemporary yob culture. Posing with the exaggerated insolence of punk, Pearson’s intentionally trashy assemblages humorously reconstruct pomp and heraldry with derogatory relish. In You’re Just A Pair of Flabby Wings, a make-shift squat-decor ‘column’ is emblazoned with impoverished ‘noble’ crests; it supports a modest collection of Oktoberfest beer steins and a Brandenberg eagle crafted from turkey foil, creating a feeble icon of Mosley-esque working-class sedition.
When it comes to acts of protest, sometimes sabotage just doesn’t go far enough. Parodying the countercultural turf wars of graffiti crews, Pearson’s Nu Brutus started off as a board which he entirely covered in street art stickers, their palimpsest of impudent logos replicating the destructive rituals of the urban underworld. Vandalising the vandalism, Pearson then performed a kind of chainsaw massacre dissection, mutilating the panel into bits before reassembling the parts as a Frankenstein-ish figure. Set on a coffee table-like plinth, Pearson’s monstrosity resolves a barbaric hero, a revolutionary paladin for the cause of couture-chic designer furnishings and the prestige of early modernism that the sculpture’s form so ineptly (and critically) approximates.
The concept of failure is integral to Pearson’s practice: the dysfunctional structure of the aristocratic class system and social ills of ‘broken Britain’ become topical malignancies transferred onto his work through both his aesthetics and making processes. Adopting a performative approach to making, Pearson positions himself as an ‘angry man’, taking out his frustrations in the most masculine pursuit of DIY – an activity guaranteed to invoke further fury. In Cyber Schmaltz Borg, Pearson approaches building a Nazi-esque standard with all the gusto of a football hooligan on a garden shed rampage. The result is hilariously pathetic, a crude effigy of twisted best-effort: a quasi-monument-cum-beer cabinet inspired by the ridiculous confectionary of Bavarian cakes, it encapsulates the feelings of inadequacy and impotence that underlie white supremacist culture.