The ICA has long championed the dusty crevices of contemporary art - having recently hung an exhibition of work predominantly from prison inmates and art preoccupied with the extra terrestrial - its latest showing - Poor.Old.Tired.Horse touches on the less populist subject of poetry and the often criticised text-based art.


See more text-based art from the P.O.T.H show at the ICA
Whilst written art has its populist roots in the conceptual backlash of the early 1970s, the genre was being put to artistic use as early as the 1950s , particularly by Scottish Artist, Ian Hamilton Finlay - whose magazine, championing concrete poetry, is the namesake to the show. Pre-empting the Laurence Wieners and Bruce Nauman’s of this world, lesser-known Finlay’s text works came carved onto columns, cut into wood and scrawled in neon on walls.
Along with art by Finlay the ICA have procured an array of typographically inclined work, ranging from the concrete poetry that so influenced the conceptualism of Robert Smithson and Carl Andre - up to the later (considerably less grayscale) work of Karl Holmqvist – best known for his Oneloveworld book.
Another P.O.T.H standout comes from American artist Liliane Ljin, whose kinetic cones of text come perched on record players – a refreshing move away from the white-space confined, on-wall prints preferred by so many of her peers.
Never an easy artistic mode to digest, the text art found in this context is surprisingly rewarding – seen by most as an art form distilled to little but the bare essentials, is a celebration of the dynamic influence text, literature and poetry have had across the breadth of post-war contemporary art.