Exhibitions2008Piss Off

Piss Off

28 Feb 08

Galerie Krinzinger

The playful antagonism of the title perfectly captured the paradoxes in this show perfectly. The crude aggression of works made by the act of urination brought to a surprising halt by the beauty, craftsmanship and organic fantasy of the works seen in the gallery. These very different works by two artists who were friends and collaborators in life, but were from different genders and generations, one still active, the others life cut short by an untimely death.

Helen Chadwick’s piss flowers made in 1991 and 1992, (only four years before she died), are poetic casts of the cavities made by urinating in the snow have fallic and labial forms: pistons and stamens, sprouted in isolation from the gallery floor like mushroom flowers. The stage for these was set by the copper and cobalt organic forms of Gavin Turk’s piss paintings, part of a series first made in 2007 during a performance at Riflemaker Gallery London. Visitors to the opening of the artist’s Me As Him exhibition (an appropriation sampling riff on Andy Warhol’s camouflage fright wig series) were invited to urinate on a series of copper prepared canvases put out in the back yard of the gallery. The resulting organic explosions were then exhibited in the elegant toilets of Sotheby’s Auction House.

The images blatantly steal an idea done before many times, memorably by Warhol and his factory: the act of mark making using personal body fluids. The great recycler of imagery and inventor of cliché is replayed by the younger artist as an act of crass vandalism on authentication and respect for one’s elders. The intellectual and formal degeneration of the Turk flowers, were played off against the formal elegance of Helen Chadwick’s casts. Despite the instinctive repulsion felt by the nature of the materials and the corrosive nature of the recycling, the Turk imagery beguiled audiences with its spurts, flourishes and complex fractals. It seems most pertinent that the ‘Dance Off’ of these great piss works was played out in home town of Viennese actionism and the oriental burnished baroque of Gustav Klimt.