With the Brexit vote in July, ongoing war and immigration crises, the world economy bumping along and politicians failing to inspire trust or confidence, it’s down to artists to cheer us up and who better than David Shrigley whose ten-metre high bronze thumbs-up sculpture “Really Good” will appear on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in September.
Thumb-up is, of course, a popular sign that something is “ok”: “As an artist you have to feel your art makes the world a better place and you have to believe that quite sincerely, otherwise why would you make it?” (David Shrigley).
As a prelude to the unveiling, Shrigley’s view of the world is on show in his paintings, which appear as oversized drawings due to his use of an oil stick like a pencil, on display at the Stephen Friedman Gallery whose two locations opposite each other in Old Burlington Street are surrounded by construction activity, indicative of the positive future for the area. Playfully, perhaps reflecting the gallery interior and the activity around it, several of Shrigley’s works reference architectural elements – “WALL”, “WINDOW”, “INTERIOR” and “BATHROOM” with perspective grids of tiles (though no windows and doors); others the stress and contradictions of modern life with 24 hour access to things which are bad (sugary drinks) while empty schedules are waiting to be filled in and filled-in “SCHEDULES” are “LIES”.
Linking to the sculpture are several works with positive messages “IS THIS OK”, “IT’S OK”, “GOOD” and “KINDNESS” as David Shrigley uses his art to bring a smile to the world and make it a better place.