15/10/2018 – 19/10/2018
The Cheshire born visual artist David Shrigley continues to experience a successful career that is full of crude, in-your-face and often hauntingly relatable art. Best described as childish humour with adult problems, Shrigley is simply entertaining. To mention some of his successes: nominated for the Turner Prize in 2013, his piece Really Good was the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, a very successful short movie called Who I Am and What I Want based from his book of the same name and he directed Blur’s Good Song.
He graduated from Leicester Polytechnic in 1991 with a 2:2. For someone with an impressive résumé it would seem odd that he would have left Leicester with a better grade. However his style and his humour blossomed with the birth of the internet, subversive, smart, silly and political. I believe he opened the path for many artists with the same style, e.g. Chris Simpson.
He was still from a time where art = paintings, then it trickles down from there all the way to his drawings. He says it himself in an interview with The Guardian’s Becky Barnicoat (The Guardian, 2017):
“I thought my degree show was brilliant, but the people who were marking it didn’t. I got a 2:2. They didn’t appreciate my genius.[…] I didn’t sell anything at the show – it was 1991, before the YBAs. There wasn’t a precedent for people selling work that wasn’t figurative painting”.
He is a silent revolutionary, by staying true to himself and his style he broke through year by year to prove the world that fine art isn’t just a canvas.
With the internet and online retail platforms like Etsy, Bigcartel, Depop etc. a whole market of accessible art has made many people’s dream a reality. We can finally buy real or copies directly from the artist for much cheaper than a gallery or store. It is thanks to artists like David Shrigley where mugs, postcards, prints and inflatable swans have a space in the art world and a voice. This kind of accessible art is not a joke, it is serious, just look at what he’s achieved.
Here are some of my favourite pieces.
David Shrigley, Untitled (the message) 2014, acrylic on paper, 75.0 cm x 56.0 cm, Stephen Friedman Gallery, London
This piece can mean so many things, I think it conveys everything it has to say. Whatever the message is when it hits you it changes you, the nail can be removed but it will never look the same again. We will never be the same nail again. If someone tells you something devastating as: ‘your wife died’ your whole world has changed and then you have to deal with the message. Most of the times some will say something as insignificant as: ‘you’re stupid’. No matter how hard the hammer hits you, you’re still getting hit with a message. Some people deliver the message in one hard hit, brutally honest, others take several hits to get their point across. Some nails are hard to hammer, they’re stubborn and don’t want to face the message, some go right through the piece of wood. But this image isn’t a negative one, imagine you’re happy couple and you find out you’re expecting. The hammer still hits you though, the pain of that message comes later down the line when the kids are screaming at 11pm on a sugar rush refusing to go to bed…
Untitled (Fuck off I am a painter) (2011), Ink and marker on paper, Diptych 29,6 x 21; 29,6 x 21 cm, Galleri Nicole Wallner, Copenhagen
This piece makes me proud to be an artist. It sums up our arrogance and angry passion in life to always do what we want to do. If you like to draw horses, draw horses. If you like to make mud pies, make mud pies. If you like to write blogs, write blogs. There is an artist for every fan, a fan for every subject, a subject for every artist. The cycle repeats because there is still so much art to be explored and discovered. It is our duty as creatives to push the boundaries of things we care about, we get wrapped up in the whole commercial aspect that we forget why we made art in the first place, because it is personal. It is an extension of our ideas on any kind of medium imaginable, it is the physical expression of our egos.
All this to say: I think David Shrigley is Really Good.