#118. Robin Greenwood writes on John Bunker: “Faint Young Suns”

“Scheherazade”, 2018-19, 120x180cm

John Bunker: “Faint Young Suns” at Unit 3, London E3 3LT.

“Scheherazade” is the largest work on show at John Bunker’s new exhibition, and is one of his best works. But then, most of the work in this show are not only amongst his best work to date, but are perhaps amongst the best around by anyone at the moment. He has taken another step forward from the work he has patiently developed over the past few years (the last two years, in particular), to the point where he can claim to be in a place of his own choosing – a full and powerful articulation of original abstract art. It’s not painting and it’s not sculpture, but I would hesitate to call it collage either. At the moment, we don’t need to call it anything.


“Rocheradius” 2019, 82x70cm


“Coriolis”, 2019, 77x78cm


“Chandrasekhar”, 2019, 64x92cm

John calls them “mixed media shaped collages”, or “shaped paintings, acrylic & mixed media”.

What’s going on in this work? Freedom from rectangles (and “angles”), freedom from frames and frameworks, freedom from overall images, preconditions – but John has been here a while, working in a place without these being too often needed. Now he seems to have shed yet more of his own presumptions about how his materials go together. They now go together in a way that is a little bit further on from being separate “objects” collaged together. There is more paint (thick and thin, and a lot of stronger, denser colour) in this new work, used in more varied ways, with an intensity of both contrast and collusion of all the bits and pieces that are contrived somehow to work together in such diversity. The paint is used both as paint and as hard, solidified, moveable material: wet, dry, mixed, lumpy-solids, stuff from the bottom of the bucket… John’s usual mad and amazing collections of studio and street-side detritus that he has always used as potential content have intensified so far as to virtually disintegrate themselves as individual knick-knacks, only to redeliver something different; something certainly not figurative, and possibly not needing to be called abstract either…


“”Zugzwang” 2019 61x74cm


“Njola”, 2019, 68x73cm


Installation view with “Faint Young Sun 1”, 2019, 120x110cm on the right.


Installation of “Faint Young Sun II”, 2019, 110x65cm, and “”Zugzwang”


“Jotunn”, 2019, 115x108cm


I do prefer the smaller, more intense works (and the first big one, “Scheherazade”) to the ones with large backgrounds. Well, you may not agree with me in all this, but go and see this show anyway. It’s very good!

Show ends on 17th November 2019! Details and dates on 07837 571184.


P.S. Make sure, too, that you see the brilliant “Reconstructing Cezanne” exhibition at Luxembourg and Dayan: https://www.luxembourgdayan.com/exhibitions/67/works/. It ends on 7th December.


  1. I have to put my ‘pay attention’ hat on when i look as John Bunker’s work.
    Particularly these.
    It’s that ‘attention’ to detail thing…that he emphasises without me really noticing.
    These abstracts all manage,in varying degrees, to look ,on point and dazzlingly bejewelled and kicked around rough and scruffy all at the same time!
    John…Like Robin i agree these are amongst your best works to date….[ I should add I have not, been and seen , but I have studied them on line and am familiar with his work especially when he was an active contributor to the Brancaster Chronicles.]
    When Robin says the pieces are “certainly not figurative …” I agree…but…”possibly not needing to be called abstract either”… i don’t.
    John gives something which I really believe is abstract.
    That’s not easy. How does he manage it?
    I can’t say but he gives me some clues.
    In order to gain insight and more inspiration for myself and my sense of understanding I wonder about collage.
    What does Juan Gris bring to the table in a figurative way that John Bunker sniffs out and takes away as abstract.?
    I think of Juan Gris because in his collages/paintings of around 1914-1920 comprising of still lives, newspapers,guitars etc…well his stuff is so visually flamboyant….but also pictorially flat almost desensitised, [even though much of his subject matter is very three dimensional]…Yes it is all trapped in the boundaries of the rectangle.
    John works this all differently.
    He does not just push his stuff [content] into the pieces [silhouettes] but as Charley G says in his comment makes those two “…highly integrated”
    So as Charle continues…”this is really exciting for abstract art with an irregular outline”
    He seems..[ John that is ] to be favouring a more sculptural path?
    John’s shading of content, his pulling and pushing and manipulating , together with disturbing some surfaces to make spatial differences ..etc etc…..all combine to construe a new feeling.
    Take a relatively new sculpture for example “Black Flock [Raven] 1960 by David Smith…in this I see a strong pictoriality which has an over riding flatness and then a dullness OK so it is a sculpture but if it is three dimensional it is because it is a real thing standing there in space.
    Back to these abstracts of Johns. They are definitely not flat but not three dimensional in a literal sense at all…..is that an aspect of being abstract?

    Another aspect of them being abstract ,for me, is the specific attention which is paid to all of the little spaces which the ‘silhouette’ achieves as and when it becomes whole. So,for example, in “Chandrasekhar” the white wall behind the silhouette is given a leading role in the multiple tasks the abstract is performing. Be it a slash or a cut or a painted line found just a fraction away from the edge of some weird piece of board….. Wowsers.. they in themselves combine,definitely because they are so precise,and then they manage to seek out more combinations which were not at first visible and they go on to maybe get to the whole or maybe they combine again..and again.. Some where in there I think is abstract…and it is exhaustive and also indeterminate in spite of and because of the precision.
    Maybe it could be the intellectualisation of that edge..those edges.?
    Not in any way concept based but only emphasising the difference between true commitment,nailed down hard and a haphazard and relaxed provisional idea.
    Intellect comes out on top.
    Discipline pays dividends.

    This is what I am thinking today….it will be vague.

    John has always attracted much attention and did so when when he put up his work for the Brancaster Chronicles…
    If you are interested have a look He.contributed from the beginning . His last was No. 54 and you will find lots of insights from the guys who were there on the day if you watch the film …and the comments are very much in tune with what is here on Abcrit ..
    A definite advocate for persistence.
    Cheers John.

    Liked by 1 person

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