Monday, 28 November 2016

Gavin Turk: Who What When Where How & Why

A really good exhibition this, at Newport Street Gallery. I find it really odd that this is the first large scale survey in this country of Gavin Turk's work. Said work seems to be about illusion, identity, appropriation and ownership. Turk obviously knows his art history, and seems to enjoy playing fast and loose with the work of other artists, making many sly and funny references, but also creating something new by usurping their work and stamping his own identity - be it his portrait or signature - all over it.

Cave, (1991) above, the notorious blue plaque which cost Turk his Royal College Of Art Masters degree.

These photographs of Turk in the guise of Jackson Pollock, and the Pollock-like paintings (which are actually Turks' abstracted signature repeated), were very clever. I loved the giant cubes which referenced the work of Robert Morris and were also like the cubes of Ai Wei Wei which I saw in Cambridge last month (here). The distressed mirrored surfaces and their reflections were so beautiful.

This upstairs room very obviously references the work of Warhol and had great visual impact.

The carefully staged crashes of Transit Disaster using Turk's actual car and van are based on Warhol's Death and Disaster series. The cube above is the actual transit van crushed and compressed as a sculptural work in itself.

I liked the layers of meaning in these self-portraits of Turk posing as Sid Vicious, referencing Warhol's double and triple portraits of Elvis posing as a cowboy in a film still.

This figure above was odd. A disturbing end-of-pier style dummy who becomes animated once a sensor was triggered.

This figure was really affecting. I really felt for Turk as a down and out substance abuser, compared to the swagger of Turk as the figure of Sid Vicious, above. Shades of Duane Hanson.

I found these trompe l'oeil 'readymades' intriguing and extraordinary in their mundane ordinariness.They really do fool the eye and you can't help but want to touch and examine them to feel their weight compared to the real things as they are all bronze. I thought they were fantastic.

These bronze sleeping bags referencing the homeless were really emotive, especially at the this time of year given the weather conditions, and most of us able to enjoy the warmth of our homes and comfort of family in the run up to Christmas. With next years forecasted economic hardships on the horizon one can't help but think - there but for the grace of God...

I will definately be paying this exhibition another visit.

Gavin Turk: Who What When Where How & Why
until 19th March 2017
Newport Street Gallery