Once you watch the head of a man with pens stuck in his nose busily move on a sheet of paper’ it is not difficult to understand why the exhibition and the piece are titled David Shrigley: Lose Your Mind. Shrigley’s work goes far beyond one’s expectations—it portrays mundane life in a completely different way. Known more in Korea as the artist who worked on Jason Mraz’s album cover, David Shrigley is exhibiting his work through the British Council at Hyundai Card Storage.
▲ "Lose Your Mind" by David Shrigley. Photographed by Lee Hye Min.
David Shrigley is a popular British artist with a diverse spectrum of artwork—drawing, painting, sculpture, animation, and music collaborations. He is an artist who lowers the threshold of contemporary art to the level of the audience. Some of his artworks are scribble-like drawings, a repetitive and simple illustration video, and a sculpture of a severed lower half of one’s body. The meaning of these works may expand according to the viewers’ interpretations yet the artworks themselves are simple.
The exhibition in Seoul is divided into five parts. The first part of the exhibition starts abruptly. As the viewers step into the Hyundai Card Storage, they see a cartoon-like figure on the wall. Some may be perplexed, but the composition of the exhibition is as Shrigley-esque as possible. In the second part of the exhibit, Shrigley has placed a wall full of his drawings. The similar walls keep appearing until the end of the exhibition. The drawings are selections from an archive of more than 1,000 drawings.
▲ Shrigley’s drawings. Photographed by Kim Ha Young.
Shirgley’s drawings are literally doodles. Mostly without any coloring, they are just black lines on white backgrounds that have been inkjet-printed. With this simplicity, Shrigley recreates everyday life satirically. His work contains British humor, puns, sarcasm and much more. The playful attitude that he takes in most of his works may lead a viewer to disregard the piece. The way that he presents his drawings—a mass collection of his works pasted on walls—makes each drawing seem to be only a part of a single wallpaper. The viewer has to closely look at the wall to distinguish the works, kind of like reading a comic book. Here, by following Shrigley’s trail of thoughts, they might be able to look at the world from a different perspective.
In the third and fourth parts of the exhibition, the viewer confronts the weirdest looking pieces in the exhibit. From among them, the catchiest yet outrageous piece, “Lose Your Mind,” intuitively shows viewers how some of his previous works have been created. A loose head with pens in its nose hurries its way on a sheet of paper, drawing millions of geometric lines. Until the last part of the exhibition, one cannot let their guard down in case of an unexpected encounter.
▲ "Beginning, Middle and End" by David Shrigley. Photographed by Lee Hye Min.
The way that the art pieces is displayed within the exhibition is exceptional. Walking through the gallery, one abruptly discovers an art piece lying on the floor. The pieces are displayed so naturally that one may easily ignore their presence, especially the gigantic green leaf on the floor. The way Shrigley planned the artworks to be displayed is also special. For his “Beginning, Middle and End” piece, he asked the volunteers to place the long, sausage-like unfired clay however they wished. The only rule he applied was to place the work in a way that the beginning and the end would not be seen—only the middle, “lots of middle,” should be seen. About this work, he said, “Maybe it’s a metaphor for life; a very short beginning, a very short end, and a huge middle bit where lots of stuff seems to be happening.”
Shrigley’s taxidermy of an ostrich is another important piece in the exhibition. According to Shrigley, taxidermy is located at the middle point between nature and relic—it is a reproduction of life which also contains some aspects that never make it a life. He has been working on taxidermy pieces for more than a decade. What makes Shrigley’s “Ostrich” of the exhibition and his many other works different is that they are without heads. This peculiar intervention differentiates his taxidermy from the ones in museums. The headless pieces seem as if they never had their heads in the first place.
▲ "Ostrich" taxidermy by David Shrigley. Provided by britishcouncil.org
David Shrigley is fascinated with morality and mobility. He regularly produces artworks—steady, and never-ending creativity have helped him become an internationally renowned artist. He said, “When making an artwork, you should please yourself, not others. You can’t make art for other people, as they might not actually like it, and you won’t like it too. When you make an artwork for yourself, at least you can be satisfied with it.”
The exhibition venue, Hyundai Card Storage, is a charming place to visit. Since the Storage is located between the Hyundai Card Music Library and the record shop Vinyl&Plastic, one can encounter not only the exhibition itself but also other cultural compounds. Lose your mind here.