Published  20/04/2015

Gavin Turk: ‘For a long time I’d say: “I don’t think I’m growing a beard, I’m just not shaving”’

Gavin Turk: ‘For a long time I’d say: “I don’t think I’m growing a beard, I’m just not shaving”’

For the launch of Project Beard at the Other Art Fair, artist Gavin Turk will shave off his beard in stages, transforming himself into six famous artists from Auguste Rodin to Salvador Dalí. Anna McNay went to Turk’s east London studio for a chat about facial hair and to exclusively film the final moments of his shaving spree

Gavin Turk came to fame in Britain in the 1990s, in the era of the Young British Artists and Charles Saatchi, who included him in the 1997 group show, Sensation. Having first studied at Chelsea School of Art (1986-1989), Turk went on to the Royal College of Art, but was refused his final degree in 1991 on the grounds that his final piece, Cave, a blue heritage plaque commemorating his presence as a sculptor, placed in a whitewashed studio space, was insufficient.

This underlying theme of questioning the identity and role of the artist and author has remained throughout the ensuing two decades of Turk’s career, not least in his first major monograph published last year, This Is Not A Book About Gavin Turk, which lets 30 notable contributors explore themes associated with his work.

As a special commission for the April 2015 London edition of The Other Art Fair, headed by Ryan Stanier, Turk has decided to cut off his rather bushy beard in stages, being photographed in the guise of six famous artists – from Auguste Rodin to Salvador Dalí – along the way. This is not too great a departure from previous works by the artist, which have seen him styled as icons of 20th-century culture, including Andy Warhol, Sid Vicious and Che Guevara.

The signed editions and posters produced as part of Project Beard, as it has become known, will be sold at the fair to raise money for the educational children’s art charity, The House of Fairy Tales, set up by Turk and his wife in 2007.

Gavin Turk: Project Beard
The Other Art Fair, Victoria House, Southampton Row, London
23-26 April 2015

Interview by ANNA McNAY


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