Simon Patterson

The Last Supper Arranged According to the Sweeper Formation (Jesus Christ in Goal)


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Not on display

Simon Patterson born 1967
Emulsion paint
Overall display dimensions variable
Presented by the Estate of Thomas Frangenberg 2019


Simon Patterson’s The Last Supper Arranged According to the Sweeper Formation (Jesus Christ in Goal) 1990 is a wall painting comprised entirely of the names of Jesus Christ and his twelve apostles. The text is painted directly onto the wall, with the names arranged to mimic the football team formation known as the ‘sweeper’. The sweeper is a formation now largely obsolete in football, so-called because it includes a defensive ‘sweeper’ whose job it is to ‘sweep up’ any attacking moves which pass other defenders. In Patterson’s wall painting Jesus Christ is placed in the position of goalie, as ‘saviour’ of goals. This work was the first of his wall drawings that collided different systems and taxonomies (in this case religion and football) and exemplifies the approach and humour typical of Patterson’s practice, which is typically based on existing structures of categorisation, subverted through the replacement of their contents with incongruous subject matter. Patterson has described why this incongruity is important to him: ‘I like disrupting something people take as read. I am not simply pulling the rug out from people. I am not nihilistic. What interests me is juxtaposing different paths of knowledge to form more than the sum of their parts.’ (Quoted in Greenberg, ‘The Word According to Simon Patterson’, Tate: The Art Magazine, no.4, winter 1994, p.47.) Another example of his incongruous juxtapositions can be seen in The Great Bear 1992 (Tate P77880), in which he replaced the names of all the stations on the iconic London Underground map with those of engineers, philosophers, explorers, planets, journalists, footballers, musicians, film actors, saints, Italian artists, sinologues (Chinese scholars), comedians and ‘Louis’ (French kings).

The Last Supper Arranged According to the Sweeper Formation (Jesus Christ in Goal) was formerly in the collection of Thomas Frangenberg (1958–2018), a historian of renaissance art but also a passionate collector of contemporary art since the late 1970s. The focus of this collection was artists who work within the traditions of conceptual art and the majority of works were acquired direct from the artists, often early in their careers.

Further reading
The Turner Prize 1996, exhibition brochure, Tate Gallery, London 1996.
Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection, exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy of Arts, London 1997.

Helen Delaney and Andrew Wilson
January 2019

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