Go See: Angus Fairhurst Retrospective at Arnolfini in Bristol, England through March 29, 2009

February 26th, 2009

fairhurst-couple-of-differences
Angus Fairhurst’s ‘A Couple of Differences Between Thinking and Feeling II’ via Sadie Coles HQ

Angus Fairhurst was one of the orignianl “YBA’s” or Young British Artists, whom some feel was overshadowed perhaps by his peers Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, et al.  Fairhurst attended Goldsmiths College at the same time as Hirst and participated in the seminal exhibition Freeze in 1988, which brought the soon to be labeled YBAs to the attention of London collector Charles Saatchi and the art world at large.  Notably, Fairhurst organized a similar show of student work six months earlier, which served as a precursor to Freeze.  Since that initial burst of attention, Fairhurst exhibited internationally, including a well received group show in 2004 at the Tate Gallery with Hirst and long-time collaborator (and former girlfriend) Sarah Lucas. Working with a range of media and styles, Fairhurst’s work has been difficult to categorize – except perhaps by his idiosyncratic preoccupation with gorillas.

Angus Fairhurst [Arnolfini]
Angus Fairhurst at Arnolfini [Sadie Coles HQ]
Angus Fairhurst: the gorilla in the room [Times]
Angus Fairhurst, Arnolfini, Bristol [The Guardian]
Angus Fairhurst: The forgotten man [The Independent]

more story and images after the jump…

angus-fairhurst-gree
‘Gree’ by Angus Fairhurst, via The Guardian

angus-fairhurst-underdone-overdone-painting-no-26
Angus Fairhurst’s ‘Underdone/Overdone Painting No. 26′ via Artinfo

The retrospective at Arnolfini in Bristol originated as a project Fairhurst was working on, but grew into its current manifestation following Fairhurst’s suicide in March of last year, at the age of 41. The exhibition aims to highlight Fairhurst’s development over his career, most specifically the lack of cohesion that embodies his oeuvre. Fairhurst’s paintings, performances, videos, sculptures, music, and collages all point to a man unwilling or unable to narrow himself to a definition. But that is not to say there is no circuity to his work.  Earlier ideas, previously set aside, prodigally find their way back in.

The retrospective cannot avoid the specter of Fairhurst’s suicide, if only because his work is infused with darkness, death, and self-effacement. One of his latest paintings, ‘Schopfun,’ features what appears to be a human figure, with all but the hair obliterated, leaving an empty space to peer through to the background. And even a somewhat comic, lighthearted sculpture of a gorilla, ‘A Couple of Differences Between Thinking and Feeling II,’ shows the gorilla almost ridiculously contemplating its severed arm on the ground.

angus-fairhurst-schopfun
Angus Fairhurst’s ‘Schopfun’ via Artnet

Arnolfini’s retrospective of Angus Fairhurst runs January 31-March 29, 2009 in Bristol and is presented in collaboration with Sadie Coles HQ, Fairhurst’s London gallery.