With the major exhibition of supreme witticist David Shrigley set to open at the Hayward on Wednesday, it’s time for Shrigley fans of the world unite and get their hype on
David Shrigley: Brain Activity will feature some 175 works, covering the full range of Shrigley’s diverse practice from the past two decades of the artist’s career. In the words of Curator Dr Cliff Lauson: ‘David Shrigley: Brain Activity for the first time brings together two decades of selected artworks from one of Britain’s most witty and amusing artists Shrigley’s acute sense of humour brings to life all of his works which range from taxidermied animals to his well known drawings.’
Shrigley made his name with over 7000 drawings and animations that make witty and wry observations on a range of familiar social subjects and everyday situations. Faux naive, they have an immediate and accessible appeal, while offering insightful commentary on the absurdities of life, death and everything in between. For this Hayward Gallery exhibition, he will present some 80 drawings never before seen in the UK, plus around 45 larger new paintings on paper. Shrigley also presents a brand new animation, which will be shown alongside a selection of existing films including New Friends (2009) – an ironic twist on peer pressure – as well as Sleep (2009), Light Switch (2007) and Ones (2009).
The exhibition will showcase the full diversity of the artist’s sculptural work, including new works and interventions that respond to the Hayward Gallery’s spaces. Ranging from hand-crafted sculptures made out of unusual materials, to larger series and installations, including 12 Large Eggs (2011), Insects (2007) and Black Boots (2010), many of Shrigley’s sculptures are characterised by their odd scale, lending the works a strange, uncanny edge. Death and the macabre are recurrent themes in Shrigley’s work, treated with the same deadpan humour as the everyday. His work Gravestone (2008) is inscribed with a mundane shopping list, while his taxidermied works include a puppy holding up a sign reading ‘I’m Dead’ and a series of headless animals ranging in size from squirrel to ostrich. The exhibition will also feature a specially commissioned steel gate integrating with the Hayward Gallery’s architecture, and a new work displayed on one of the Hayward Gallery’s sculpture terraces.
Other exhibition highlights include a large-scale in-situ wall painting as well as a set of bronze weapons, Swords and Daggers (2010). An early work, The Contents of the Gap between the Refrigerator and the Cooker (1995), is a colorful strip that, upon closer inspection, reveals itself to be a pile of miniature plasticine creatures. Additionally, a well-known series of photographs feature discreet interventions that the artist has orchestrated in various landscapes and interiors, injecting comedic irony to otherwise everyday banal imagery. Often extremely funny, these are the sort of scenarios you never come across in real life, but wish you did, such as River for Sale (1999) and Lost (1996), which depicts a paper note on a tree calling out for a lost pigeon.
David Shrigley (b.1968) lives and works in Glasgow. He has had solo exhibitions at international venues including UCLA Hammer Museum of Los Angeles, Kunsthaus Zurich, Malmo Konsthall, Museum Ludwig, Camden Arts Centre and the CCA Glasgow. His work was featured weekly in The Guardian from 2005 to 2009 and he has had a number of books of his work published, most recently the retrospective What the Hell Are You Doing?:The Essential David Shrigley. He collaborated with animator Chris Shepherd on the film Who I am and What I Want in 2005. Worried Noodles, a CD released in 2007, features settings of the lyrics from his book Worried Noodles – the Empty Sleeve by artists as diverse as David Byrne, Franz Ferdinand and TV on the Radio.
David Shrigley: Brain Activity opens on 1 February 2012 and runs until 13 May 2012 at the Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX… Information and tickets: 0844 847 9910 www.southbankcentre.co.uk/shrigley
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