Exhibitions2013L’Amour Fou

L’Amour Fou

21 Feb 13

David Nolan Gallery

L’Amour Fou was Gavin Turk’s inaugural solo show at New York’s David Nolan Gallery.

Combining diverse themes of urban decay and the notion of artistic originality, Turk produced a series of interconnected works relating to automotive components. Elevating ordinary objects into the realm of art, Turks paid homage to the artistic legacy of Jasper Johns, which he developed into a meditation on the demise of the British working class.

In the exhibition, Turk explored the formal possibilities of mechanical automotive components. Displayed in the first gallery were three vitrines containing painted bronze sculptures of disused car parts, painted in trompe l’oeil to replicate the real thing.

These detailed replicas also recall Marcel Duchamp’s “readymades” – ordinary mass-produced objects presented as works of art. Turk, however, undermines that sense of authenticity through his use of bronze, traditionally a “high-art” medium. On the walls surrounding the vitrines hang large, atmospheric photographs of billowing smoke. Counterpoised menacingly against the lifeless pipes, these ghostly spirits conjure toxic forms.

In the second gallery were 11 “exhaust” drawings. Like damage to the retinas from staring too closely at the sun, the images bear witness to the waste exhumed from a car exhaust. These drawings imply an indexical relationship between cause and effect and the imprints act as record of their own making.

For Transit Compression, the artist had a white English Ford Transit van pulverized into a small unit of metal waste. For Turk, this work is a “symbol of the demise of the working class male”, acting as a wistful rebuttal to a new age of fast transport and instant communication.

In each of these works, Turk implies an ambiguous relationship between real and unreal, art and function. Retracing art historical legacies – Duchamp’s “readymades”, Johns’ bronze sculptures – Turk, powerfully challenges the myth of artistic originality.