An ‘Open’ sign outside David Shrigley’s new exhibition at Anton Kern Gallery greets visitors, announcing that the gallery is ready for business. In his sixth solo show with the gallery, the Glasgow-based artist brings together seventy-eight drawings, along with two sculptural pieces and a video. Coming in two different sizes, these ink and acrylic drawings on paper deliver the artist’s signature, whimsical technique, putting him in a distinct place in today’s art world.
Minimal and often hilarious, Shrigley’s work is immediately recognizable, with its sparse color palettes and even sparser depictions of humans, animals and natural phenomena. The artist’s humorous and puzzling visuals, in which primitive naivety and sarcastic sapience unite, often dwell on the morbid, or parody the conceptual exercises of high art. The artist, whose Thumbs Up sculpture will be installed on Trafalgar Square in London in 2016, pursues a sharp yet faint humor in his arrangements, composing caricatural representations of humans and animals or abstracted illustrations that could mean a great deal or very little.
Text, included in a large number of his works, equally complicates and accentuates his illustrations, striking peculiar questions or suggesting overlooked facts. Idiosyncratic and simply joyful, his creations vocalize everyday dilemmas and challenges awaiting the contemporary man, embracing the ebbs and flows of everyday living. Sometimes confessional and in others mysterious, Shrigley’s distinct visual language stands out with its observable simplicity and expansive allegory.
The artist’s Sculptural pieces, on the other hand, replicate two of the most basic electronic devices used in daily life, a landline phone and a subtractor. The dominancy of smart phones and computers have visibly afflicted these object’s circulation in contemporary culture, a point Shrigley seems to place at the core of the works, turning them into comically larger-than-life signifiers of a bygone era. Yet the objects are not merely dead images, and function quite well. Subtractor is open for viewer participation, in the event that any visitors have some sums they have to calculate, while Telephone is actually connected to the gallery’s main phone line. These objects manage to romanticize these fading gadgets while melding seamlessly into the broader aura of the show with their exuberant and slightly sarcastic execution.
David Shrigley is on view at Anton Kern Gallery through May 23, 2015.
*All images are by Osman Can Yerebakan for Art Observed.
— O.C. Yerebakan
Anton Kern Gallery [Exhibition Page]