Beano 80th Birthday Collection goes to York gallery ‘According to McGee’
Horace Panter gives Beano characters 80th anniversary Pop Art makeover at McGee gallery
DENNIS the Menace, Gnasher, Minnie the Minx, Lord Snooty and the Bash Street Kids will be popping into York gallery According To McGee as part of a celebration of the Beano’s 80th anniversary from May 19.
Pop Art artist Horace Panter, who happens to be bass player for ska legends The Specials too, has been commissioned by the DC Thomson comic to create new depictions of some of its most popular characters.
The Tower Street gallery will be the first stop outside London’s Fleet Street launch event to exhibit the works in a coup for husband and wife curators Greg and Ails McGee.
“I’ve been working with According To McGee for a number of years now and I’m delighted to be bringing the Beano’s 80th Birthday Collection of new paintings and prints to exhibit there,” says Howard “It will be hot on the heels from its launch at Beano HQ in London, where it has been a palpable hit.”
Panter’s depictions remain true to the spirit of the much-loved originals while giving them a new boost of Pop Art energy via his paint brush. Dennis and Gnasher now dive into an Los Angeles swimming pool, as an homage to David Hockney’s Californian swimming-pool works, and Minnie the Minx becomes an Andy Warhol starlet icon.
Lord Snooty is a tip of the top hat to Roy Lichtenstein, complete with Ben Day dots and speech bubble, while the Bash Street Kids bristle with mischief in a world of Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst high art.
Greg McGee believes Panter is the perfect choice for the new series. “He’s a Pop artist at the top of his game. He has a controlled, vibrant style that lends itself to iconic characters,” he says. “His defining role in ska-punk as bassist in The Specials is pertinent too. The Beano has been a punkish disruptive force in British visual culture since before Johnny Rotten was born. I can’t think of a more appropriate artist than Horace Panter to bring the Beano’s favourite troublemakers to a modern audience.”
The collection consists of large-scale originals, with Billy Whizz the largest at 1m x 2m, plus fine art prints, all signed by Panter, who will attend the midday launch on May 19, when he will sign vintage Beano annuals for customers too.
Greg is pleased that the event is gathering a groundswell of attention. “We’ve had clients messaging us directly though Twitter and Instagram, especially after Horace’s appearance on BBC Breakfast. We’ve made pre-exhibition sales and the guest list is filling up. Anyone interested in coming might want to book by contacting us through our website or on social media.
“The exhibition will be open everyday of the week, for three weeks, but the launch event is a very small window of opportunity to meet the man himself: a leading Pop artist in the UK, with a luminous exhibition of Britain’s favourite comic-strip characters. It’s punk, Pop and painting in one art gallery. We can’t wait, and we’re proud that it’s a coup for York as a city and the very modern, creative energy it now harnesses.”
Ails McGee is equally thrilled at securing the northern premiere. “This is an achievement that reflects well on everything we’ve been trying to celebrate here in York,” she says. “York doesn’t have to worry about tourism – it’s the second biggest recipient of visitors in the UK – but what’s great is that with the flourishing of micro-breweries, festivals and new galleries, the contemporary energy is providing as much of a reason to come visit York as does the heritage.
“We feel that this exhibition can play a major part in that. The Beano, like York, is part of our country’s heritage. Having Horace Panter reinvent the characters anew through the filter of Pop Art is a pleasing reflection on what many creative people here have been doing here for some time. Horace Panter & The Beano’s 80th Birthday Collection is the perfect exhibition for York and indeed art collectors everywhere. These are old favourites, remixed.”
Horace Panter & The Beano’s 80th Birthday Collection runs from May 19 to June 9. Contact [email protected] for invitations to the 12 noon launch. According To McGee, Tower Street, York is open Monday to Saturday, 11am to 5pm, and Sundays, 1pm to 4pm.