Alsastair Mackinven’s poignant artworks form a critical language with which to deconstruct ideas of power and worth within the art system – the role of the artist, how art is displayed and mediated to the viewer by galleries, and how art is transacted through the market and mass media. Executed in 2007, his large-scale painting Excellent (With a Flourish of Adjectives About the Zeitgeist) depicts five identically sized black stars in a neat row against a grainy white-grey background. The work comes from a series entitled ‘Critical Theory’, shown in 2007, in which the monochromatic canvases playfully function as both paintings and their own reviews. Ranging from one star (poor) to five (excellent), the visual language of the paintings humorously parodies the self-righteous sanctimony of newspaper and magazine art column ratings. Rendered on unprimed linen, the present work’s grid-based composition is arranged according to the high standards of the Financial Times’ layout template, whilst ‘worse’ paintings take their scaling from ‘lesser’ publications such as free commuter newspapers. With its greyscale palette, appropriated imagery, and poignant satire, this stimulating work exposes the absurdity of mindless conformity in a consumer driven world.