David Shrigley (4 stars)

DCA, Dundee, until Sun 21 Jan 2007



David Shrigley’s drawings are synonymous. He is famous for absurdities with a helping of schoolboy humour. But it is his sculptures that are most memorable in this mini-retrospective. Cast aside the ‘but is it art?’ comment, commonly attached to his work - it is tired and naive, at best - there is more to it than that. You could say his work is disposable, typically viewed in the Guardian on Saturday, and binned on Sunday. So what is the difference between what we see in print and what we are presented with here?

His drawings are commonly reproduced so it is not surprising that it is his unique sculptures that are most attractive in this exhibition. ‘Bronze Man’, 2004, abandoned in the centre of the gallery, says most about his work, while ultimately saying least. Small and vulnerable, this work does not hide behind the usual one liner, but sums up a lot that his other works don’t. The lone figure also signifies the obvious divide between his drawing and sculptural works. Huddled in groups around the gallery, the drawings contrast directly with the singular sculptures, suggesting Shrigley’s creative struggle between aesthetics and anti-aesthetics.

The collection of new drawings, titled ‘Books With One Page’, are departures from his earlier works. These shout profound statements, ‘GOD IS IDLE’, ‘ALL OF US’, empty of sentiment and barren. Shrigley carefully balances humour and typography amusingly, provoking a nervous laughter that reminds you everything is not all right.


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