David Shrigley

Works on Paper

1 February - 2 March 2019


David Shrigley is best known for his distinctive drawing style and his satirical treatment of commonplace human conundrums. Acerbic, weirdly profound, while at the same time universal, his quick-witted drawings and hand rendered texts are typically deadpan in delivery, yet stirring in their effect. Posing eccentric moral dilemmas through his trademark combination of figure and wit, Shrigley’s playful absurdity draws on familiar reference points that the viewer can easily locate; tropes from advertising, asides and personal refrains mingle with a cacophony of oblique observations and socio-political critique. Extending a storyteller’s hospitality to other points of view, Shrigley draws naïve observations and the perspectives of creatures, aliens and objects into his orbit, laying bare the mirth, ambiguities and pathos of everyday life.

While drawing remains at the centre of his practice, Shrigely’s artistic exploits are rich and varied. Over the course of his career the artist has worked across an extensive range of media including animation, installation, painting, photography and sculpture. Recent projects include a large-scale installation commissioned by Stephen Friedman gallery for Freize London 2018, Really Good for the prestigious Fourth Plinth Commission in London’s Trafalgar Square (2016), the live-performance work Problem in Brighton (2018), and a poster campaign created with London Mayor Sadiq Khan LondonIsOpen (2016) as a positive counter-response to the Brexit vote and wider anti-immigration sentiment in the UK.

With this exhibition Shrigley returns to his mainstay of text-based drawings, with two new bodies of works on paper. Produced specifically for the exhibition at Two Rooms, the larger acrylic works on paper include a number of allusions to his previous time in New Zealand while an artist in residence at Two Rooms in 2015. Iconographic marketing icons such as the Kiwi and the Flip-Flop–ubiquitously known as a Jandal in local parlance–jostle with mood states and declarations such as To Hell With Everything Except Pets, Moments of Clarity and I Am Not Drowning I Am Enjoying Some Peace And Quiet At The Bottom Of The Lake. In this series colour adds an extra layer to Shrigley’s slapstick language; upending a more familiar poetic cliché for example, we find The Moon Reflected in Slime surrounded by a curdled swamp of forest green, the moons silver disk rather diminished in size.

In the series of works in ink on paper, visual and textual humour are delivered with wry precision; we encounter image-ideas such as Birds With Yo Yos, a Fucking Sunrise, and an Entrance to Hell Via Student Accommodation. While characteristic of his dry humour and capacity to cut to the heart of the quotidian and its predicaments, we might sense a more brooding tone in the pieces that touch on larger, grittier truths. However, as he shifts swiftly in scale and tone –between worldwide woe and frivolous levity- Shrigley manages to capture a quality that is as slippery as it is particular, adeptly reflecting back to us the mercurial nature of our individual and collective habitus of thought.