As visitors approach the gallery, they are greeted by a two-part magenta neon sign bearing contradictory instructions: one reads “WEAR SHOES” and the other “DO NOT WEAR SHOES”. The storefront window signage will seem perfectly at home to a passerby, as the gallery is located in New York’s famed Fifth Avenue shopping district. Here you are initiated into the world of David Shrigley.
Inside, further into the space, is another neon sign announcing that you have entered the arena of “FLUFF WAR”, the exhibition’s eponymous work. The structure of FLUFF WAR is a ten foot by ten foot square enclosure akin to a miniature soccer stadium or a giant air hockey table. Trapped inside are clusters of black wooly fluff being blown about a smooth white floor by gusts of wind coming in through surrounding vents.
War is a cheeky misnomer for what the fluff is engaged in. Incapable of exerting its own will, the fluff is at the whim of hidden fans, randomly sequenced by a computer program, blowing at varying intervals and strengths. It remains unclear which fluff is winning or losing, what the objective is, or if there is one at all. Regardless, one can easily become an enraptured observer of this nonsensical activity.
David’s new drawings continue in his tradition of combining image and text to deliver comically deadpan messages that resonate on philosophical, ethical, and political levels. The large color works rendered in acrylic and oil bar read immediately like signs or advertisements, while the small black ink drawings are graphically complex, and invite the viewer to inspect closely. The benign declarations and mischievous wishes in Shrigley’s works express the pathos, tedium, irony, and oftentimes ridiculousness of everyday life.