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David Shrigley
at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, California
Recommendation by Cherie Louise Turner


David Shrigley, ''I'm Dead,'' 2010, taxidermied puppy with wooden sign and acrylic paint. Photo: Alexander Newtown.

 

Continuing through September 23, 2012


Witty, bizarre, strangely playful, roughly hewn: these are some of the first and lasting impressions of the work of Glasgow-based artist David Shrigley. And, there are many impressions to be made in this, the largest survey of the artist’s work to date. Readily apparent is that Shrigley is prolific, and he is interested in a wide range of media. Throughout the three large and two smaller rooms that the show occupies, there are several black-and-white animated videos, sculptures of various materials — taxidermied animals, ceramic, steel — paintings, photographs, and black-and-white drawings. 

 

The show begins with a bang. One large space on which all walls, floor to ceiling, are wallpapered with hundreds of black-and-white drawings featuring text and/or imagery. The tone is set immediately as we are manically bombarded with funny, odd, and/or sometimes gross or dark takes on life or random observations. These are the sort of thoughts that one might doodle on a napkin at a café or bar. Examples of text include “this is a sign; please read this sign carefully; please do what this sign says” and (on a flag held by a man) “ants have sex in your beer.”

 

From here, the mania subsides as the presentation of work becomes more spaced out. But throughout, the common thread of intriguing visual and textual one-liners continues. A taxidermied puppy holding a sign that says “I’m dead;” a hanging sign that reads “hanging sign;” a video that features simply a finger hitting an on/off light switch — the video goes black when “off” is hit and comes back into view when “on” is hit. Immediately brought to mind are the works of Tucker Nichols and, for their similarities of wit, the recent work of Alice Shaw. 

 

What pervades in the show is Shrigley’s ability to consistently apply his vision to any and all media he utilizes, thereby constructing what has become a rich alternate world. It’s a fantastic place that pokes and prods, stretches and simplifies the everyday. In his arena you will certainly laugh - and pause to look at things from a decidedly different angle. 


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