Joy Division plus cats equals instant clickbait for this blog. But that was probably never the intention of a Stuckist painter so surreal she calls herself Jasmine Surreal.
In a colourful, cat-mad show at Trispace Gallery in South London, this work brings a sobriety to proceedings, a stony sense of the monumental, or indeed the memorial.
But there is nothing too, too serious about the content, which replaces Ian Curtis and the rest of the band with toy cats. An inscription reads ‘Ian Cat-is’ . . . sacrilege, no?
Well, yes and no. Surreal is a fan of felines and a fan of post punk bands from the North. The way she puts the two together is a loving tribute to both, painted ostensibly by her toy cat. Really.
It seems unaware, a work of the unconscious. And her predilection for puns (“Love will Bear us apart” reads the caption for a pair of teddies), only amplifies the artist’s dream logic.
But the remix is knowing. If you know the tragic story of Joy Division, you might appreciate the irony. And if you use the world wide web much, the juxtapositions won’t surprise you.
Surreal puts together several elements. The foreground nods to an iconic photo by Anton Corbijn. The decorations are an extension of a one of the greatest ever sleeve designs, by Peter Saville.
And the deity-like cat at the head of this composition is also based on a photo of Ian Curtis. I can’t find the shot in question, but there’s no mistaking the intensity.
In a world where boy band members can wear t-shirts proclaiming their affection for Manchester’s most dour, we are very ready for this statement of gothic cuddliness.
Epilepsy, suicide, nihilistic lyrics and a band name with fascist echoes: contemporary culture thrives off what seems least marketable. Fluffy it may be, but Toy Division is hard evidence of this.
Jasmine Surreal can be seen at Trispace Gallery, London, until Saturday 15 2014.