= The Crawford Arts Review: Gavin Turk at Ben Brown Fine Arts

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Gavin Turk at Ben Brown Fine Arts

Mayfair Gallery Artist Brings Smiles
Open Monday to Friday 11 am to 6 pm; Saturday 10.30 am to 2.30 pm

The gallery is Ben Brown Fine Arts in Brook's Mews W1. The artist is Gavin Turk. A book has just been written about him (see below). As one of the original Young British Artists (YBA), and famous for erecting a blue plaque to himself in his finals (bought by Charles Saatchi and the rest is history), you can be sure of a laugh. Well, if not a laugh, a smile as he shares his artful jokes. I am going to review the book at a later date – and in the meantime I would urge you to find your own quiet way to Ben Brown Fine Arts at 12 Brook’s Mews W1. The Gavin Turk exhibition closes on Friday 14 June. 

Here meanwhile is a taster of the works:

Holy Egg (Yellow), 2013
Painted egg with the artist’s initials, GT, written on it. Very, very sexy (think male and female gametes).

Holy Grail, 2003
A bronze shaped like a polystyrene cup and painted white to look like a polystyrene cup. Holes punched so that it doesn’t hold water, haha.

Micky’s Chippy, 2008
One of those short 2-pronged forks made of wood you’re given with takeaway food. The artist’s version might cause something of a domestic upheaval if thrown out with the rubbish. It’s bronze painted to look like a wooden fork. No news yet on whether or not the work has been sold.

One Thousand, Two Hundred and Thirty-Four Eggs, 1997
No disclosure as to whether or not they are free-range. A landscape of white egg shells with, again, the artist’s name slashed across.

Pavement, 2008
A floor arrangement of nice paving slabs, one shattered in the manner of a London paving stone that has had the misfortune to encounter the wheel of a BMW or similar. Made of painted bronze. The paving stone strikes back.

Pistoletto’s Rubbish, 2013
Hommage to the 20th century Italian Master, Michelangelo Pistoletto. The work consists of a bulging black plastic sack screen printed on to mirror finish stainless steel. A contextual piece.

Port (White), 2012
A mesmerizing piece consisting of white narrow bore neon tubing formed, when fixed to a gallery wall, into the apparition of a partly open doorway.

Refuse, 2012
Don’t bump into this by mistake (not that you would). It’s the archetypal black rubbish sack, filled and no doubt stinky, and knotted and tied at the top. It’s made of bronze, though, painted black. Its resemblance is uncanny (this is very much a Gavin Turk
theme and an example of the iconoclastic sense of humour that the purchaser of such pieces gets to take home and enjoy) (see pic).

Gavin Turk Refuse, 2012
Painted bronze
51 x 80 x 50 cm (20 1/8 x 31 ½ x 19 ¾ in)
Edition of 8 + 2AP
© Gavin Turk, 2013
Courtesy of Ben Brown Fine Arts

The Nubians of Plutonia, 2009
A large landscape canvas. Failed to understand a thing.

The Wall Torn Down, 2005
The bronze painted polystyrene cup again, this time with the rim broken.

Triple Pop Black and White, 2011
Based on one of the artist’s earlier sculptures. The image of the artist, as Sid Vicious singing “My Way” in the pose of Elvis Presley as depicted by Andy Warhol, is
silkscreened ink on canvas. The legs especially look very much like synchronized dance steps. Multi-layered.

Untitled Extra Terrestrial Piss Painting, 2008
This is the work I really admire. The figure is pissing backwards against a wall (see pic, but you really should see the original). 
Gavin Turk
Untitled Extraterrestrial Piss Painting, 2008
Urine and metallic paint on canvas
102 x 76 cm (40 1/8 x 29 7/8 in)
Courtesy of Ben Brown Fine Arts
The artist has used metallic paint and (the work is glazed), ahem, urine, presumably his own, in its execution. As a woman, I can say if only women had ego like this. 

Beuys, Broodthaers, de Chirico, Duchamp, Johns, Klein, Manzoni, Warhol, 1994
An alphabetic listing of the artist’s favourite artists written as a list on a white sheet and framed in black. It is 44 x 34 cm – somewhat larger than A4 size – and is hung on the wall by the gallery desk, so I can only assume the work is one of the gallerist’s favourites.

Burnt Out, 2008
A makeshift fire such as might be made by a homeless person (ring of  bricks with black, dead embers of wood in the centre). Made of painted bronze.

Evil Eye, 2012
Acrylic on canvas and a subtle subversion of the circle.

Fresh Window, Blue, 2011
A six-paned dark window with blue frame painted in oils on canvas. 
Fresh Window, Brown, 2011
As above, with brown frame.

Fresh Window, Green, 2011
As above, with green frame.

GT Eggs Orange, 2012
The artist’s initials spelled out in coloured egg shapes rather reminiscent of egg-shaped Smarties.

Habitat (Zingy Purple), 2004
A standard sized sleeping bag, empty of occupant, laid on the gallery floor. Go back to the title for a moment. This one rings the bell in terms of describing, quite literally, the habitat of those who have no home but the street. What saves it from sentimentality is the subtitle which implies look, it’s not too bad, it’s a nice bag and the bag is a nice (zingy even) purple colour. Made of painted bronze. A real trompe l’oeil because the artist has made it look soft. A surprise for an overnight guest perhaps?

Holy Egg (Green), 2013
I begin to see this title used as some kind of expletive as in “There’s bird shit on your shoe,” he says. “Holy egg”, she exclaims. Here the GT initials are discernible only as a kind of shadow. 

Holy Egg (Pink), 2013
Each initial (large ones this time) has acquired a black smudge bar. Multi-layered.

A word of warning. This is a “European” gallery in that you are quite likely to encounter in an enclosed space well-dressed clients who speak in languages other than English. Try not to panic. It's truly the kind of gallery that makes London London.

Gavin Turk: Essays by Judith Collins and Iain Sinclair
Hardback with jacket 24.5 x 29 cm
ISBN: 978-3-7913-4834-6
400 pages with 450 colour illustrations
Prestel, May 2013, £45

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