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With its sober colours and cheerless interior, Table and Chair might seem the epitome of ‘kitchen sink’ painting. Yet the subject of the painting is the immediacy of physical objects rather than the trivial dreariness implicit in David Sylvester’s term. In order to achieve a sense of solidity, Coker used so much paint that the boy’s head actually slid off the canvas one night and had to be re-painted.

An unsentimental and objective attitude towards the facts of life, whether physical things or events, is evident in much social realist art.

September 2004