in terms of the history of art, from the objects of devotion, adoration or reverence that i once believed were the physical manifestation of beautiful art (but are perhaps only highly-crafted artefacts, objects of ritual and faith), i now see the contemporary art scene overrun by irreverence, vandalism and subversion – it’s clever to be ironic, it’s fun to be subversive, it’s crafty to be non-crafted, it’s art poking fun at itself and others, the absurdity of its being, it’s making, non-art becomes high art, the non-original is unique.. an art that is spawned from the fallout of a messed-up world, to be torn apart and reassembled, painted over, repositioned, upsized, downscaled, remodelled, appropriated, stolen, created from the everyday, the mundane, the bad, and the plain ugly.. it’s not cool to be an object of beauty.. anything is art these days, even a tea stain.. (and we all have one of these original works at home)..
Gavin Turk Tea Stain 2004, tea on paper, 245 x 335 mm (unique edition of 1000, actual prints may vary)
currently for sale on gavin turk’s own website at £172.50 (inc. VAT)
gavin turk studied at the royal college of art (at the same time as myself), but he was refused his degree, having made a blue plaque for his exhibition space with the words ‘Borough of Kensington, Gavin Turk, Sculptor 1989 – 1991 worked here’ (now seen as a seminal work in his oeuvre), which made a comment on the cult of the famous, ironically inventing a future version himself as notable artist, without having created or exhibited any major body work (he studied sculpture). it was a kind of of wish-fulfillment… and it worked..
gavin turk’s print tea stain fits in with the natural evolution of his work, in the ongoing concept of questioning the authenticity of art and its maker, and just like duchamp, the everyday becomes high art, in the right context. tea stain perfectly symbolises the labour or hand of the artist (albeit by putting a mug of tea down clumsily – perhaps use a coaster next time), yet it is so essentially a non-planned, non-artistic thing, but by repeated printing it becomes an act of specific creation, calculated within a game of chance.. perhaps it was born out of one of those serendipitous moments in the studio, when you are thinking what am i going to do next, when contemplating the surface of your cluttered desk? turk continues to invent the brand of gavin turk as the successful artist, as the embodiment of the history of another person, his twin, a doppleganger, the artist he wants to be remembered as.
gavin turk created his first signed canvas in 1991 – his signature back then had the stylish appeal and mark of someone apparently important when seen blown up in scale, and it provided a basic critique on the false importance we place on names, the stamp of the artist that authenticates the artwork… but now, the signature signature of gavin turk is fast cheapened by multiple reproductions of it (a joke is only funny the first time), much like the picasso badge on a citroen, and it might backfire.. previously, turk has appropriated the works of others (notably warhol, more recently pollock in his new york show) and situates himself in the position of both the author of the work and its subject matter, at the same time questioning the cult that surrounds the revered, dead artist. manifestations of the gavin turk signature continue to be a key theme in his work, as a mirror with his signature [Your Authorised Reflection 2009] extends this idea even further when it reflects a limitless series of gavin turk signed portraits of the viewer..
the art dealers and critics take his work very seriously, even when turk seems to mock the art establishment, the commodification of art… the only problem with tea stain is that although it raises questions about the authorship and validity of art, by making it for sale as an edition (and those that buy into it; some 500 have sold apparently) it rights any subversion, it becomes plain old establishment after all… and if you cry but i could do that! or is it art? this is just what gavin turk had in mind…
view gavin turk’s latest exhibition of work, jazz, at the sean kelly gallery in new york, or see more of his work here, he’s not currently represented by whitecube, but you can still read a couple of articles there..