I went to the David Shrigley show at hayward on Sunday Before going i was like others surprised that a comic illustrator had a major retrospective on southbank. But unlike others i was excited that Shrigley’s relentless silly scribbles and sarcastic attitude on life and art are being embraced by one of London’s major galleries.
Unfortuently however the comic punch lines and poetic pessimism run a bit thin in the upper gallery. All prints, signs, notes and photos are razor sharp and trigger instant giggles and carry a consistant thoughtful and reflective tone. I am a big fan of his accessible endearing aesthetic and the fluidity of his practice. The instantaneous nature of his public signs feels like Shrigley could make an art work every day.
Shrigley seems as bemused as we are to find himself in a major gallery and instigates some mischievous behavior. There are subtle interventions dotted around his whole show, stickmen on balconies, holes in walls where you must crawl through and holes in walls that you can peep through and see the back area of the Hayward filled with inflatable worms or taxidermy rats. He really attempts to directly subvert the context and it makes the show more substancial, his ‘museums are rubbish’ poster hangs down on the entrance. However i did feel slightly under served upon my exit , finding out that they will combine the £10 ticket price with Dellars new show ‘the joy in people’ that opens next week. That seems like a good combination but solo Shrigley isnt enough conceptually, theoretically or in range of media. Shrigleys attitude is so defined by his style and aesthetics that he struggles to make anything above and beyond a comic illustrator. There is a piece that is set outside all the other works called ‘asleep’ where a harshly drawn figure sleeps in a bed. The accompanying sound is dramatic and creates the sense of someone terminally ill or dying. what was fascinating about this piece was that it pushed what Shrigley was capable of doing, the sound was so distressing it exposed Shrigley’s own limitations as an artist. This work revealed that Shrigley is shattered in this major showcase because the environment encourages the author to search for something more than the silly.