Damien Hirst fills his medical cabinets with pristine medicines and packaging, often arranged with the precision of a scientific laboratory or a well-maintained pharmacy. Gavin Turk in contrast fills his grand cabinet with emptied, torn, crumpled packaging – a complete contrast to that of Hirst -, with the cycle of birth, death and decay followed by immortality.
Gavin Turk is the master of creating works of art from rubbish, whether old artist’s palettes, dirty squashed tubes of oil paint, petrol cans, oil filler, deflated footballs or an old artist’s stool. Often recast in expensive bronze, Turk turns the everyday items found in an artist’s studio or the debris thrown away by society into something permanent, while beautifully-made douglas fir plywood boxes, which would not be out of place in a Mayfair retailer, contain a wooden fruit crate, a squashed plastic bottle and paper cartons, again raised to the level of expensive art.
In two other cabinets, unknown objects are wrapped in rough brown linen and string. Are these works of art to be unwrapped, or are they discarded items to be thrown away?
“Give In” is an exhibition of Gavin Turk’s work at Ben Brown Fine Arts to coincide with the exhibition of his work at Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery. Here Turk continues to play with our preconceptions of art and of the expensive objects that people believe they need to buy in very expensive Mayfair shops to signify success, with references to other artists including Damien Hirst, Joseph Albers, Joseph Beuys and Donald Judd, but with Turk’s own twist and interpretation.