Wild animal genes brought to surface in Man's Best Friend

By Alison Oldham Jon Buck says his mask-like sculpture Man s Best Friend, with its primitive teeth of nails, is reminiscent of a tribal artefact: The position of the hand so close to those jagged teeth also reminds us that although man s best friend is the old

Jon Buck says his mask-like sculpture Man's Best Friend (pictured), with its primitive teeth of nails, is reminiscent of a tribal artefact: "The position of the hand so close to those jagged teeth also reminds us that although man's best friend is the oldest of our domesticated beasts by a long way, not far below the surface the wild animal genes still exist."

It's in Behind The Lines at Pangolin London in King's Cross, Buck's first major one-man London show of coloured bronzes, prints and drawings. His sculptures with incised lines - hence the title - sometimes hint at Picasso. At other times the outlines have echoes of Keith Haring or the direct simplicity of drawing in cartoons, specifically the Simpsons.

Human and animal heads recur in his work as "a house for ideas" - sometimes with objects imposed on top of them. In the catalogue, Polly Bielecka comments that Go Between "depicts a young head whose expression is relaxed yet intent and not at all surprised by the small, fully formed bird perched above."

Recent works are remarkable for their intense colours, which Bielecka traces to the influence of Dutch zoologist Nicholas Tinbergen. His experiments with seagulls, sticklebacks and butterflies proved that a heightened response was achieved by increasing colour saturation in pre-existing markings- creating enhanced triggers which he termed supernormal stimuli.


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Buck makes playful objects which have an easy charm and, though cast in bronze, they often have more of the character of ceramics than cast metal.

o Until December 24 at Kings Place, 90 York Way, King's Cross. Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 6pm.

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