Duchamp did it first, 101 years ago, with his urinal. By recasting a utilitarian object as a work of art, he opened up the world to seeing things differently, and caused tremors that shook the core of the art world that are still being felt today.
Reflex gallery is proud to present an exciting group exhibition with a selection of diverse works by some of the most exciting practitioners of contemporary art from around the globe. ‘In Times of Plenty: The Shape of Things Today’ also takes everyday objects as its starting point. But this time, by recasting them in a gallery setting, these artists are asking us to question, not only the nature of art, but more the nature of our contemporary society, with its rampant consumerism, disposable culture and overexposure to iconic brands.
Whether it be Erwin Wurm's comic frankfurter-like Head, cast in bronze, or Ichwan Noor's VW Beetle fashioned into a space-age black ball, its smoothness reminiscent of Barbara Hepworth, or Keith Coventry's McDonald's golden arches, redrawn in red and cropped by a white frame, the work in the show invites us to look again at the things around us.
By distorting, abstracting and deforming, these objects are rendered strange-beautiful and monstrous in equal measure. Michael Craig Martin's acrylic on aluminum paintings of a green tennis ball, a high heel and a robot vacuum cleaner have a graphic simplicity, Donald Baechler's collage of a diamond solitaire, is somehow both cosmic and sinister against a backdrop of childlike drawings of faces. James White's oil on panel monochrome imbues a canister of Raid insect spray with a certain monumentalism, standing tall on a shelf in an otherwise ordinary setting, a collection of sunglasses scattered alongside.
Young British Artist Gavin Turk's Holy Egg (2018) is an appropriation of Lucio Fontana's Fine di Dio from his famed Concetto Spaziale series. The egg, a highly charged symbol with connotations of the circle of life, is made two dimensional here, cast in blackened brass. With its perforated surface suggesting the artist's initials, it is mysterious and relic-like in one context, and throwaway, a piece of scrap-metal, in another. His tiny wizened Malus Domestica (2017) is both astonishingly ordinary in its hyperrealism, and an exquisite piece of craftsmanship.
We are surrounded – these artists say – by the things we idealize, the things we think we need (the robot vacuum cleaner) the things we desire (cars). Their forms and functions we take for granted. The headspace they occupy, the environmental impact they wield, and the insatiability they breed in us. This extraordinary display of work invites us to reflect and take stock.