Gavin Turk: Who What When Where How & Why
Sometimes it’s hard to see beyond the shtick. Gavin Turk’s shtick especially. He’s the guy whose degree show was just a blue plaque with his name on it (he failed), the guy who thinks rubbish bags are art, the guy who reckons his signature is a masterpiece in itself, the guy who put himself on the cover of ‘Hello!’ magazine. But all those headlines obscure the truth that beyond the shtick, schlock and schmaltz, Turk is a quiet, clever, passionate and maybe even – whisper it – important artist.
Fellow YBA and shtick master Damien Hirst has been collecting Turk’s work for years, and this mini-retrospective is pulled entirely from his own collection and shown in his natty Vauxhall gallery space.
The show opens with Turk’s signature. It’s carved into thick card, laid out as a blueprint for a country garden, and scrawled across the wall. It’s even splattered across a whole room of canvasses as he does a little turn as Jackson Pollock.
Then he’s plonked himself on the cover of ‘Hello!’. Never mind that it’s handmade, out of focus and that he’d done naff all to warrant a magazine cover at this point in his career – Turk was myth-building.
The massive central space in the gallery is given to ‘Cave’, the notorious blue plaque. It’s a bold, obscene, ridiculous, funny waste of space that totally undermines what a gallery’s meant to be used for.
Upstairs, Turk casts himself as Sid Vicious in Warhol-esque paintings, or as statues of sailors, tramps and horseguards. There’s a huge