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Gavin Turk’s latest exhibition 19 June, 2009

Posted by mydeco in Uncategorized.
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On Wednesday night, after a last minute invitation, I found myself schmoozing (or at least attempting to schmooze) with London’s finest art crowd. At 31 Museum Street, just in front of the majestic British Museum, Gavin Turk showcased a new exhibition of work.
Gavin Turk first caught the attention of critics in 1991 when his tutors at the Royal College of Art refused to give him a degree. His final show – Cave – consisted of a whitewashed studio space, containing only a blue hermitage plaque (of the sort found on important buildings in London) commemorating his own presence as a sculptor.


Turk has continued to use self promotion in his art ever since and his latest exhibition was no exception. As we walked into the tiny gallery, you could not help missing the gigantic wooden plaque emblazoned with the artist’s name announcing his own brand.
The ‘Turk’ brand leads the artist to take some bold measures in his latest exhibition, not least as he substitutes Robert Indiana’s seminal work ‘Love’ for his own surname ‘Turk.’


Robert Indiana’s original LOVE print


Gavin Turk’s version


It is not just in the medium of paint that Turk mimics famous icons. In a 14 minute film, Turk recasts himself as the famous 18th Century ‘Mechanical Turk’ – a life-sized mechanical man that could miraculously play chess. Turk recreated exactly the same setting and pose as the famous robot and mechanically moves a knight across the chess board. Eery yet compelling.


An illustration of the original Mechanical Turk


 A still of Gavin Turk’s ‘Mechanical Turk’ film.


A bit further on, three coloured mirrors are displayed with images of Turk disguised as Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe and the leftist revolutionary Che Guevara. Directly opposite, the three faces reflect into another identically sized mirror. This final mirror has no iconic face, but instead Turk’s infamous signature scribbled in pen in the bottom corner. Are these figures the people Turk sees when he looks in the mirror? Is this plain narcissism? Or is Turk trying to say something more profound? For Gavin “making art and experiencing art is an attempt to catch a glimpse of yourself…. a form of mirroring”.


Gavin Turk as Andy Warhol

There is no denying that Turk’s artistic statements are massively egotistical and have been copied from a previous art historical source. That said, they do leave a lasting impression. This YBA certainly has something to say, I’m just chuffed that I got to shake his hand!




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