The exhibition ‘We Are One’ consists of many of Gavin Turk’s recent neon works; these signature works by the artist evidence the evolution of his practice made between 1995 and 2013. Turk’s neon pieces allude to consumer fetish, celebrity and glamour. The artist often co-opts and transforms original meaning and many of his neon works turn everyday objects into luminous signifiers channelling the spirit of Warhol and Duchamp, in order to create Turk’s own form of logos.
The artist’s series are reduced to minimal typographies, other works offer the symbolism of communication: a seeing eye, a flickering flame, primordial hieroglyphs, visual languages whose meanings are not immediately apparent to the viewer, evolved to modern day usage.
A neon red star in the exhibition recalls Turk’s ‘Che Guevara’ series, and a red Maltese cross alludes to Yves Klein’s interest in the Order of St John. Also relating to Turk’s recent wedding, when the artist wore the Maltese cross, in a ceremony that was a partial re-enactment of Klein’s own wedding. The use of the cross in the artist’s work highlights each point of the Maltese cross representing the eight lands of origin, the origin of languages, and the values of truth, sincerity and faith.
‘We Are One’ has been selected from ‘Seven Billion Two Hundred and One Million Nine Hundred and Sixty-Four Thousand and Two Hundred and Thirty-Eight’, which was first shown at The Bowes Museum, County Durham earlier this year; and which was curated by Greville Worthington. The neon series by the artist will be joined by three additional bronze sculptures shown outside in the park at New Art Centre, Roche Court, Salisbury.
In 1991, tutors at the Royal College of Art refused to present Gavin Turk with his postgraduate degree, a decision that was based on his graduation exhibition. Titled ‘Cave’, which consisted of a whitewashed studio interior, containing a blue heritage plaque commemorating his own presence as a sculptor, stating “Gavin Turk worked here, 1989-1991”. This instantly bestowed notoriety on Turk, whose work was collected by numerous collectors including Charles Saatchi, who later exhibited the artist’s work in the exhibition ‘Sensation’, which toured London (Royal Academy of Arts), Berlin (Hamburger Bahnhof) and New York (Brooklyn Museum). Turk attended the private view of the Sensation exhibition at the Royal Academy, dressed as a homeless person.
The artist has subsequently produced an extensive body of work, which questions the value and integrity of a hermetic artistic identity. ‘We Are One’ is the second occasion the New Art Centre has collaborated with The Bowes Museum.