On 13 September 2014, Ben Brown Fine Arts Hong Kong will open the first solo exhibition of works by Gavin Turk in Asia. The highly acclaimed British artist, who will attend the opening, will bring together a varied selection from his iconic and provocative oeuvre spanning the last decade. The exhibition will include a new trompe l’oeil sculpture, a room of neon works, and a room dedicated to his ‘after’ Warhol series.
Over the last three decades, Turk has relentlessly challenged the notions of value, authorship and identity in his work, audaciously referencing both modern masters and himself in the pieces he creates. This exhibition will offer Asia a glimpse into the highly original and conceptually challenging working methods of one of Britain’s most important living artists.
Inspired by a recent visit to Hong Kong, Turk created a Styrofoam box sculpture especially for this exhibition, adding to his infamous trompe l’oeil sculpture series in which he casts a substantial bronze sculpture from a seemingly ephemeral object and then paints it to further obfuscate the true materiality of the piece. In this case, Turk chose a polystyrene container commonly used to transport fish in Hong Kong’s wet markets, thus elevating a familiarly banal object to an undeniably significant piece of art, pushing the viewer to take notice of the form and function of the object.
The gallery’s project room will be transformed into a neon installation space with arresting pieces such as Port (Yellow) (2012), The Observing Eye (2012), and One Twenty Five (2013). Turk’s investigations through neon address consumerism, celebrity, propaganda and spectacle while referencing the iconography of 20th century masters such as René Magritte, Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol. This exhibition runs concurrently with a solo exhibition in England of Turk’s neon works that opened at the Bowes Museum, County Durham; and will travel to the New Art Centre, Roche Court; and Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool.
Another room of the gallery will be dedicated to Turk’s ‘after’ Warhol series in which he appropriates iconic Warhol imagery, typically inserting himself as the subject, and employs the same silkscreen process as the revered artist. These subversive paintings are instantly recognizable yet unsettling in their unexpected subject matter, initiating dialogue on authorship, identity and the myth of the artist. Turk has also created a custom wallpaper for the exhibition to accompany the hanging pieces in this room.
The artist elucidates on the title he has chosen for the exhibition, A:
A is the capital form of the first letter of the Latin alphabet and the first letter of the word alphabet, which comes from alpha and beta the combination of the first two letters of this alphabet. Whole words are sometimes abstracted to their first letters the best example being; A is for Apple.
A is a distant place; A is non-specific signifying that there may be more where that came from. The distinction is made between art and art with a capital A. Art when it starts with a majuscule letter is somehow more serious almost to the extent of always belonging to others. A is for Anarchy like a flag representing a word, that’s like a flag representing an ideology. A is the place where one starts on the journey to get to B, which makes this exhibition title the essence of starting the process of looking.
Gavin Turk was born in 1967 in Guildford, England, and attended the Royal College of Art in London. In his MA exhibition show, Cave (1991), Turk notoriously presented a whitewashed studio space containing only a blue heritage plaque commemorating his presence. Though refused a degree, his subsequent infamy attracted the attention of Charles Saatchi and Turk became part of a loosely associated group known as the ‘Young British Artists’ (YBAs). He has since been represented by many major galleries throughout the world and is known as a pioneer of many forms of contemporary British sculpture, including the painted bronze, the waxwork, the recycled art-historical icon and the use of litter in art.