Map of Land and Sea with Borders by Oliver Jeffers

Oliver Jeffers exhibition distills a world in flux

Most widely known for his children’s books, Jeffers returns with a new exhibition that holds a magnifying glass over the chaos of the world we live in

Observations on Modern Life takes a critical glance at the current socio-political climate in various parts of the world, drawing – sometimes literally – on geography and cartography as starting points. The exhibition, which has just opened at London’s Lazinc gallery, features roughly 50 pieces created by Jeffers over the past ten years, among them sculptures, paintings, collages and found images.

“In recent years I have started taking political motivations for how maps have been drawn, and turning them on their head, using the visual language of cartography as a means to make other social commentary,” Jeffers said of his work. His oil painting Map of Land and Sea with Borders is a perfect embodiment of this, the world’s existing borders haphazardly skewed into new territories and seas. “By making environmental, apolitical and sometimes humorous comments on maps and globes, I have been addressing issues I feel strongly about regarding how random maps are in the first place, how arbitrary the carving up of things and drawing of borders are.”

The Statelet of Things by Oliver Jeffers
Top: Map of Land and Sea with Borders, Courtesy of Oliver Jeffers and Lazinc; Above: The Statelet of Things, Courtesy of Oliver Jeffers and Lazinc

Although Observations on Modern Life plays host to decidedly grown up subject matters, Jeffers teases the same childlike character and quiet sense of humour he’s become known for over time. And despite what the name of the exhibition suggests, his work doesn’t seem to make observations but rather ask questions – something children master with unflinching ease.

Sometimes it takes a child to speak some sense. When you can’t find one, then listen to a children’s author.

Observations on Modern Life runs at Lazinc until 15 May;