As the art world begins to reassess the YBA (Young British Artists) legacy with Damien Hirst’s current retrospective at Tate Modern and the Hayward Gallery’s look at Tracey Emin last year, Sarah Lucas proves that the movement’s original experimental fervor is still alive and well. Lucas will curate four shows over the course of 2012 for Sadie Coles HQ’s new space, Situation, on New Burlington Place in London. The artist brings together her old and new works in combination with the art of other intimate compatriots, including that of her partner, Julian Simmons. The gallery has already hosted two Situation shows this year, ‘Miss Jumbo Savaloy’ and ‘Make Love,’ which highlight Lucas’s command of everyday materials, like concrete, pantyhose, coat hangers and light bulbs. Lucas will direct related programming to coincide with the exhibitions throughout the year. Sadie Coles will publish a catalogue documenting Lucas’ work from 2005 to the present, entitled After 2005, Before 2012, picking up where her current catalogue raisonné leaves off.
Sarah Lucas graduated from Goldsmiths College and participated in 1988’s ‘Freeze’ exhibition and Charles Saatchi‘s ‘Sensation’ in 1997. Originally known for her cheeky reproductions of sex scandals and racy photographs from tabloid newspapers and a preoccupation with the perverse urbanity of London, the artist shies away from the spotlight. Lucas shuns her contemporaries’ focus on the market in favor of concentration in the studio, stating, “I really like the idea that art is not just its value; in the same way that everything else has a value. You might make a concrete sculpture, but it might be better than that brass one even if the brass is worth more. That, that’s not where the value is.” Though Lucas and Tracey Emin sold their art and other sexually charged trinkets, such as wire penises and t-shirts emblazoned with phrases like “I’m so fucky,” in their own ‘The Shop’ in East London almost 20 years ago, Lucas continues to maintain a similar rough and ready, artist-driven vibe for her Sadie Coles’ exhibitions.
Lucas’s artistic practice often involves travel to specific locales that engage her creatively. Situation provides the space to bring these works home and pair them with the artist’s older pieces. Responding to particular places and times, Lucas continues to work as “when I was little, just making things, because I always did, to keep myself company.” Attracted to the idea of disturbing sensuality, Lucas’s early work relies on rude jokes and suggestive pairings like her famous self-portrait in which she places fried eggs upon her chest. Her recent sculptures and installations currently on view in ‘Make Love’ visualize themes of surrealist eroticism and feminist politics with tuberous forms constructed from stuffed nylon stockings and contorted into plays on animal forms (See Tit Teddy and Pussy) and other sausage-like amalgams of sexual appendages mounted upon varied pedestals, including concrete blocks, chairs, and ironing boards. Conceptually and formally indebted to French-American artist Louise Bourgeois, Lucas pushes her work into the realm of today’s crass, physical contemporaneity. While driven by feminist ideals, Lucas continues to make art that poses questions, rather than preaches. Despite her wariness of fame, Lucas will gain more exposure this July, when her solo survey exhibition, ‘Ordinary Things,’ opens at the Henry Moore Institute.