David Shrigley: Life and Life Drawing will present new and recent work by the Glasgow-based practitioner, who has developed a cult following for his stripped back, darkly humourous and deliberately simple drawings that explore existential dramas, human dysfunction and anxiety.
The exhibition will encompass drawings, paintings, sculpture, animated videos, artist books and multiples, and a new sculptural commission for NGV International’s Waterwall titled General Store. The artist’s omnipresent sense of humour lies at the heart of these works, which are manifest in tragicomic narratives that reflect on the banality and absurdity of everyday life and objects.
“David Shrigley is one of contemporary art’s most unique conceptual artists; his works are renowned for their humour and ability to convey in stark black and white the most complex as well as trivial moments of human experience,” says Tony Ellwood, Director NGV. “David Shrigley: Life and Life Drawing is the artist’s first comprehensive Australian exhibition and is sure to delight his avid fans in Melbourne and beyond.”
Shrigley was a finalist in the 2013 Turner Prize following his critically-acclaimed major retrospective exhibition, Brain Activity at the Hayward Gallery, London in 2012. He was recently awarded the prestigious Fourth Plinth Commission, to be unveiled in Trafalgar Square in 2016.
At the centre of Shrigley’s exhibition at the NGV is Life Model 2012, most recently presented in the Turner Prize. This participatory work takes the form of a life drawing class, comprising a large sculpture of a naked, ungainly man upon a plinth – who blinks at irregular intervals, and urinates into a bucket every two or three minutes – surrounded by a field of chairs and easels so that gallery visitors are able to sit and draw the figure. The subsequent drawings, by usually anonymous, amateur people (but also including notable artists and celebrities) are displayed upon three walls of this sculptural installation.
The exhibition will also include the major installation Beginning, middle and end 2009, which involves a group of participants working under the direction of the artist himself. Together, they will fashion over two tonnes of clay into an expansive ‘clay sausage’ that is rolled out and arranged in the gallery space where it will slowly dry and crack over the course of the exhibition. The intestine-like mound of clay humorously reflects Shrigley’s interest in the human body and internal processes.
“Shrigley’s work is very wrong and very bad in all sorts of ways,” says English art critic Adrian Searle. “It is also ubiquitous and compelling. There are lots of artists who, furrowing their brows and trying to convince us of their seriousness, aren’t half as profound or compelling.”
Born in Macclesfield, England in 1968, Shrigley studied at the Glasgow School of Art, graduating in 1991. From 2005-2009 his drawings appeared weekly in The Guardian’s weekend magazine. He has published over 40 artist books to date, including What the Hell Are You Doing?: The Essential David Shrigley (2010) How Are You Feeling? (2012) and Weak Messages Create Bad Situations to be launched by Canongate Books in November this year. His work is held in major public collections including the Tate Gallery, London and MoMA, New York.
David Shrigley: Life and Life Drawing
NGV International – National Gallery of Victoria, St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
Exhibition: 14 November 2014 – 1 March 2015.
For more information, visit: www.ngv.vic.gov.au for details.
Image: David Shrigley, Untitled, 2014 – courtesy of the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London