Curated by John Roberts, Approaches to Realism was an exhibition featuring works by Rasheed Araeen, Art & Language, Terry Atkinson, Sue Atkinson, David Batchelor, Sonia Boyce and David Mabb. Coinciding with the publication of Roberts’ book Postmodernism, Politics and Art, the exhibition related to discourse around the separation of modernism from realism.
Roberts selected artists who “have attempted to address the troubled relationship between politics and formal interest in painting”, focusing on the idea that “reclaiming meaning from painting, and art generally, is at all times related to understanding use and intention, rather than just an act of recognition.”
All the works were broadly within the genre of painting, from Boyce’s pastel drawing (Missionary Position II), which Bluecoat had first exhibited in Black Skin/Bluecoat (1985) and which had been subsequently bought by the Tate, to Araeen’s (Green Painting) and Mabb’s (Elegy to the Third International). The show was accompanied by a free brochure containing an essay by Roberts that acted as a guide to the exhibition and an explication of the curatorial thesis underpinning it.