Visual Arts: The Independent Collector JOHN WINDSOR'S GUIDE TO COLLECTING CONTEMPORARY ART: PETER LIVERSIDGE

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The Independent Culture
NO, IT'S not Andy Warhol. He eulogised commercial design; these paintings degrade it. Look closer. Whereas Warhol painted meticulously precise copies of consumer products such as the Campbell's soup can, celebrating them as art, Peter Liversidge copies advertisements for precision products such as Rolex watches in a clumsy way that destroys confidence in them.

It is an exercise in irony. Every one of the advertisements he has copied has appeared in National Geographic, that glossy, up-market magazine that offers an armchair inspection of the slums of Rio or disease-ridden rain- forest tribes, sandwiched between advertisements for prestige consumer durables. Would such well-paid photojournalism be possible without the aid of a glistening Leica camera or Seiko watch, or the comfort of a KLM jet?

The KLM tail-fin advertisement appeared on the other side of a National Geographic page bearing a feature on life in rural Ireland, showing countryfolk travelling by horse and trap. His painting of the ad, like all the paintings in the series, bears the title of the ad's slogan. This one is: "I always thought I knew the heights of comfort until KLM raised them again". Would you feel comfy in an aircraft with a tail-fin as wonky as that? "My paintings take away the slickness, the reliability," Liversidge says. His brushwork is not deliberately naive, as is the contrived "bad art" of Martin Maloney and his school. But you could call it primitive.

The fact that Liversidge, 25, is a rotten painter by nature rather than by design, somehow adds to the integrity of his subversive art. "I really am trying," he says, "but I began painting less than a year ago. I just can't paint these products the way the manufacturers would like to see them."

It is the ads' promotion of flawless images that gets his goat. He reckons that, behind the scenes, the admen and product designers find it pretty hard to live up to them. The reality is likely to be boardroom conflict and backstabbing - the law of the jungle. The jungle-dwellers shown in National Geographic are probably more civilised.

Liversidge's foray into painting follows the installations he made during his fine art course at the University of Plymouth, Exeter. He has now been adopted by the London gallerist Paul Stolper, who will be showing his paintings of ads at the 20th Century British Art Fair and at the Contemporary Print Fair. Stolper is mounting Liversidge's first one-man show at the A22 Gallery, Laystall Street, London (0171-837 2101, 13-29 Nov).

Prices: pounds 250-pounds 650. And, for makers of glossy products, an offer they cannot refuse: advertise in `National Geographic' and get painted by Liversidge

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