(noun) nonchalant absurdity with a dash of embarrassment.

(verb) to be shark bitten.

(adverb) in a manner that is nonchalantly absurd and embarrassing.

30 January 2012

David Shrigley: Brain Activity @ Hayward Gallery

"Death" Image via Arrested Motion
DEATH: Shrigley’s work is animated by dark, deadpan humour and a sideways look at the human condition. Death, the most serious, sad and sometimes feared subject also receives the artist’s lightness of touch. Taxidermy animals appear to spring to life, while other works suggest the end is near.

Shrigley says ‘The big themes are the ones that interest me, and the ones that have the potential to be the most comic.’

MISERY: Shrigley’s art can evoke disquietude and unease as well as hilarity. It takes special delight in the dismal realities of life – teeth riddled with decay, thwarted promises of urban renewal, and other human failings. Deciding whether or not to laugh at these darkly humorous artworks often presents something of a dilemma, which Shrigley refers to as a ‘moral conundrum’.

CHARACTERS: Shrigley’s cast of characters includes freaks, lowlifes, misfits, socially awkward people and mysterious creatures. ‘Almost all of my characters are interchangeable,’ he says. ‘They could be me, they could be you, they could be anybody.’

Some are immediately recognizable as stereotypes, while others are conjured up from the artist’s imagination, ranging from talking vegetables to happy-faced teeth. The awkward encounters faced by his characters are immediately recognisable, drawn from common interpersonal relationships and social mores.

MISSHAPEN THINGS: Closely related to his drawings and photographs, Shrigley’s sculptures are cartoon-like creations that often include exaggerations of scale or function. These works also involve a variety of crafting techniques such as moulding, casting and welding. However, the finished objects look as if they have been produced by an amateur. Shrigley intends this imperfect aesthetic to give his objects a sense of personality, albeit an eccentric one.

"Misery" Image via Hawyward Gallery

"Characters" Image via Hayward Gallery 

"Misshapen Things" Image via Hayward Gallery

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