ART AS STATEMENT

I love just about any type of art – painting, sculpture, prints, you name it. But I have a special place in my heart for big, bold conceptual art that brings socio-political issues to the viewer’s attention. I’ve recently come across three artists whose work I’d like to share with you.

DAVID SHRIGLEY

I did a double-take when I saw images of David Shrigley’s interactive installation at the Stephen Friedman Gallery in London because it was SOOO different to the irreverent, comic-like drawings he is famous for (see some examples below).

I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking at when I saw an image of his installation (below) called ‘The Mayfair Tennis Ball Exchange’. “It’s a gallery filled with fresh new tennis balls that you can come and swap an old ball of yours for. That’s it. That’s the show. And somehow, it’s great (TIME OUT LONDON)”. Over the course of the exhibition as people replace the new balls with their old ones, the pristine rows of neon yellow balls disintegrate into a mess of used, smelly balls – a slow decaying in front of our eyes. I find the concept particularly poignant with multiple interpretations. You can listen to David Shrigley talk about his work here. What do you think?

AMANDA WILLIAMS

I was first introduced to Ms. Williams while listening to her TED talk. Williams grew up in Chicago’s South Side and trained as an architect. Her work investigates color, race, and space while blurring the conventional line between art and architecture. “In her paintings, sculptures, installations, and photographs, Williams uses color as a tool to examine the complex ways in which race informs our assignment of value to physical, social, and conceptual spaces (GAGOSIAN GALLERY)”. The project that attracted me was her decision to block paint abandoned houses in a predominantly Black neighborhood with colors that held strong associations with defunct iconic products and brands that were part of the Black experience decades ago.

I really enjoyed hearing her speak about how terrified she was about getting arrested for painting these houses. But she went ahead anyway (with a group of volunteers) because she felt compelled to make this statement. As an artist, I have experienced this compulsion on several occasions. You can hear Amanda speak here.

KELLIE GILLESPIE

Kellie Gillespie describes her work as “mostly sculptural, focused on issues specifically associated with mental health, as well as the concepts of recovery and survivorship. Through the artwork I create, I break the negative connotations surrounding the subject of mental illness.” Those are pretty big issues to take on and she does her subject justice.

These structures are composed of sliced up pill containers painstakingly glued together. You can watch her amazing process on her Instagram account @kellie.gillespie.art. I find her work both beautiful and tragic.

Let me know what you think of these artists and whether you believe that art can make a difference to the way we see ourselves, our lives and our planet! I certainly do 🙂

Artist David Shrigley lets it all hang out.

David Shrigley Life and Life Drawing
David Shrigley Life and Life Drawing

Ever since the Charlie Hebdo incident, there has been an ongoing global dialogue about freedom of expression in the arts and literature. I saw an exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria that featured an artist who probably never heard of the words self censorship. David Shrigley’s humorous and deliberately crude drawings paper the walls of his exhibition Life and Life Drawing.

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The Glasgow-based artist has a serious case of visual diarrhea. His drawings just seem to spew out of him. No second guessing, no deliberation and certainly no thought to ‘good taste’. However I enjoyed this show tremendously – it was refreshing to see an artist who does not take life, or himself, too seriously.

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But seriously – we need a little fun and light in our increasingly dark world. The Shrigley exhibit also contained a large space set up as a life drawing class, complete with easels and chairs, newsprint paper and charcoal, and a central nude model. Only the model was a fabricated cartoonish, larger-than- life male model peeing into a bucket. I couldn’t resist having a go at capturing the moment:

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So sharpen your pencils, lighten up and let yourselves express freely, liberally. Throw caution to the wind. And if anyone objects, you know what Shrigley would say about that….

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I’d love to hear what you think of this art, and if you think this is art at all, or art that belongs in a major national gallery?

MY NEXT BLOG POST WILL BE FROM FRANCE WHERE I WILL BE SPENDING A MONTH AT AN ARTIST RESIDENCY IN DINAN, BRITTANY. A BIENTOT! WHO KNOWS WHAT CREATIVE URGES WILL COME MY WAY…