‘The one true reality under capitalism is paying to live,’ says Alastair MacKinven, ‘and that is the harshest reality, which forces one to do all kinds of horrors, like paint for example.’ MacKinven’s abstract canvases 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. Pop Was The Sound Of The Bubble Bursting is part of a series titled Abstract Capitalist Realism, in which MacKinven directly examines the interplay between art and economics. The ornamental motifs repeated throughout these works are taken from the data protection patterns that line the envelopes of MacKinven’s utility bills and bank statements. The zig-zag surface in this painting is brightly coloured, varied and exciting, yet its ovoid ‘bubble’ form seems liable to collapse at any moment: a drama heightened by the tension between the gestural, handpainted background and the mechanic screenprinting of the overlaid pattern. MacKinven sardonically appropriates the genre of decorative painting in order to expose the dilemma of artists striving for creative integrity while entangled with the practical realities of the art economy. The title makes punning reference to ‘pop’ as an art movement, and as an expression of the unsustainable inflation of art-market hype.