Sarah Lucas: ‘Happy Gas’
Sarah Lucas’s art isn’t big, and it isn’t clever. But who says art needs to be either of those things? Maybe, instead, art can be vulgar, puerile, obscene, grotesque and childish. As soon as you walk into this big look back across her career, you meet a mechanical hand tossing off an invisible man, a wax cock on a wooden chair, a wall of tabloid tits, and lists of words for shit and wanking. Not big, not clever, but funny, shocking and, genuinely, deeply insightful. Lucas came to national attention as part of the shock and awe Blitzkrieg of the YBAs, but rather than death, love or murder (like her contemporaries Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and Marcus Harvey), she was interested in the nitty, gritty, grimy sludge of everyday existence; in sex, excrement, masturbation, cigarettes, filth, the body and putridity. The hows and whys of the things we hide or say under our breath. It’s an evisceration of norms and standards and societal expectations After the opening room with its tabloid titillation and foul mouthed nastiness, you get a hall of chairs, each lounged over by twisting, undulating female forms. Her sculptures, made of tights and wool at first, are contorted into impossible shapes, wrapped around backrests and chair legs, their buttocks spread, boobs sagging and tangled. Some are in high heels, some have dozens of breasts, some are bronze, some are resin. They’re all faceless, called things like ‘Slag’, ‘Honey Pie’ and ‘Sex Bomb’, draped over armchairs and office chairs.