Friday, 6 June 2014

Top 5 Works by Martin Creed (slight return)

I've already done a Martin Creed Top 5 but that was before I'd seen any of his art for real. In March I went to What's the point of it?, a Creed career retrospective, at The Hayward Gallery in London. It was excellent and hilarious and actually made me laugh out loud. It also made me think about art and what it's supposed to be.

I understand the point of view that great art ought to have some technical skill but I think there's a place in this world for art that doesn't conform to any sort of classical rules and even more for art that can cheer you up. Martin Creed first came to national prominence after winning the Turner Prize in 2001 with Work no. 227 "The Lights going on and off". I'm pretty sure that would have really annoyed The Daily Mail and that can only be a good thing in my book. Considering an analogy with music many of my favourite bands create amazing & thrilling sounds with very basic chord structures and I kind of see Modern Art as being the Punk Rock of the Art world.

1. Work No. 1092 MOTHERS (2011) - A massive neon sign that spins around seemingly inches from your head, with enough of a wobble to suggest it might fall over at any moment. This is the second thing you'll see as you enter the exhibition, though you may not notice the first (Work 142 - A large piece of furniture partially obstructing a door) which is just a battered leather sofa plonked in the doorway. Once I'd gained my bearings a little and realised the head room under the huge steel girder was more substantial than first thought I actually enjoyed feeling the wind whoosh past my head as I explored the rest of the room. I even sat on Work 142 for a bit to admire it in comfort.

2. Work No. 200 Half the air in a given space (1998) - Basically a room filled with balloons that contain half the air in the room. You had to wait to get a number to go in and there was a bit of a knack to squeezing through the door but once inside it's amazing how quickly you could loose your bearings. I walked as far as I could and found myself completely engulfed by white balloons, the only way to successfully navigate your way back was to look up at the ceiling where there were helpful direction arrows. Though I was in the room at the same time as several other people I only briefly caught glimpses of my compatriots. The occasional laugh or scream as someone else realised how lost they were and a couple of slightly embarrassed looks as we met face to face.

3. Work No. 755 Small Things (2007) - Martin likes neon and the exhibition featured several examples of this including; Work No. 890: DON'T WORRY, Work No. 203: EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT and Work No. 232: the whole world + the work = the whole world. Small Things wasn't there but remains my favourite because I like the colour and the fact it's really big. I find that sort of thing funny, I think me & Martin would get on quite well.

4. Work No. 1000 Broccoli Prints (2009-2010) - Creed finds comfort in repetition often revisiting themes, he made his first broccoli print as the cover for a 7" vinyl record. The thousand individual prints that make up Work 1000 are each made from a different head of broccoli and use a different colour of paint. It's a simple idea made stunningly effective by the quantity and scale, the collection filling one entire wall of the gallery.

5. Work No. 701 Nails (2007) - Not everything has to be massive or obviously funny to make a mark. Nails is quite a discrete work featuring, you can probably guess, several nails hammered into the wall at varying depths. It appeals to my sense of neatness and is lit in a way that creates comforting geometric patterns. The subtitle of this blog is "Putting everything in its right place" which is something I definitely like to do and I suspect a part of what I like about a lot of Martin's art.


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