Magazine article Artforum International

David Shrigley: Anton Kern Gallery

Magazine article Artforum International

David Shrigley: Anton Kern Gallery

Article excerpt

David Shrigley's recent work feels like the result of a personality test administered by a not entirely benevolent authority. Some of his drawings seem like innocent doodles that have bubbled up from his subconscious: a set of mindless-looking circles with an ant traveling around the rim, for example. There are also more straightforward kinds of communication: lists, diagrams, conversations (either recorded or imagined), and meaningless adages. They have a slightly adversarial air--urgent, almost belligerent, and often reaching witty heights of passive aggression. A drawing titled Dear Neighbours (all works 2005) depicts a hand writing a note that reads: DEAR NEIGHBOURS, PLEASE KEEP THE FUCKING NOISE DOWN YOU INCONSIDERATE BUNCH OF STUPID CUNTS.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The apparent randomness of these drawings, with their scrawled, childish, slightly tortured quality, gradually resolves itself, if not quite into coherence, then at least into an unorthodox and often quite funny search for that coherence--conducted, perhaps, under a certain amount of duress. Scattered throughout are questions, threats, admonishments, and bits of offhand advice to the viewer, especially to one in search of meaning: THERE IS NO NEWS, SO YOU HAD BETTER CRAVE SOMETHING ELSE; WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY TO ME? I DO NOT UNDERSTAND; and I CAN'T READ YOUR WRITING IT IS LIKE SOME KIND OF BACKWARD ILLEGIBLE SCRAWL.

Despite this disavowal, there is an offbeat logic at work here, a return to certain themes. Almost all of the drawings are engaged in a struggle between literal-mindedness and metaphor, between communication and reception, and between the use of symbols and their apparent failure. In a story made up of four parts, each part is represented by a pictograph, but the explanation of the symbols comprises the whole of the story. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.