Hauser & Wirth, North Gallery, London
23 May – 26 July 2014
The well-lit gallery is awash with colour – largely primary colours, black and white. The walls and floors are covered in paint splatters, splodges, drips and explosions. It is far more like a studio or warehouse than a gallery. Canvases are hung back to front, and paint pots and canisters lay strewn across the floor.
The first thing you notice is the row of men, bent over, pants down, standing on crude plinths, seemingly drinking paint through pipe-like straws from canisters, before emitting the colours through their exposed anuses on to the wall behind. It is like boys competing over how far they can urinate, only this seems somehow more bodily, more visceral, less playful.
Next to the men is a yellow, inverted, hanging horse’s head, surrounded by the same tubing, twisted and contorted, filled with yellow paint, to spell out the question (and the work’s title) Who Painted My Horse Yellow? Well, the lineup of possible culprits, the identity parade, is narrowed down by each contender’s – or offender’s – colour-coordinated T-shirt, giving away the secret as to what is coursing through his veins, infiltrating his digestive system, and colouring his soul.
In the back corner of the gallery is an office installation with a sex doll sitting astride a photocopier, churning out page after page of Xeroxes of her exposed genital and anal orifices. One such image has been blown up extra large, painted on canvas, and hung on the wall. A shredder is overflowing with strips of bright coloured “confetti” and a wire bin is filled with paint-sodden balls of paper.
There are two room-like structures within the larger gallery confines. The first is House of Pain-t, a geometric box, filled with further canisters, pots, tubes, paint splashes and neon words spelling out their own colours – echoing the transparency of the defecating men’s colour coding. The second substructure, placed dead-centrally, is built from back to front canvases, marked up in pen. Inside, it is tiled like a shower room, with three showerheads, each emitting a primary colour. The floor, raised on boxes from the ground, is again covered in paint splatters. Stepping away from the open door are smeared red footprints. There is the suggestion of something macabre, Psycho-like, maybe a high-school horror.
Jackson often works with the image of a clown, and one hangs inverted here, breasts for eyes, and another penile tube, firing paint against the wall. There is something very Freudian about the entire show. References abound to the anal stage, the second stage of psychosexual development, when the child experiences conflict between his id, ego and superego, learns about bodily processes and that what goes in must come out, and first expresses an interest in his erogenous zones. Jackson claims to want to send up the figure of the genius artist, by setting up these installations whereby the paint is applied by anything other than his own hand. Nevertheless, he is at the heart of it all, and the work is most recognisably his. While his superego may wish to distance the adult Jackson from the puerile and anally fixated output, by creating figures to act out his id’s desires, the artistic ego still mediates very strongly between the two.
Written and presented by ANNA McNAY
Filmed by MARTIN KENNEDY
Click on the pictures below to enlarge
Jackson Pollock: A Collection Survey, 1934-1954
The exhibition of Jackson Pollock’s works from the collection of the Museum of Modern Art opens up a new perspective on the role of prints and drawings in the development of the artist’s oeuvre
Jackson Pollock’s Mural: Energy Made Visible
Mural, Pollock’s largest-ever largest painting, has been credited with breaking the ice for abstract expressionism. This exhibition explores the context in which it was produced and its effect on the contemporary art world
Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots
Jackson Pollock’s black paintings have been unjustifiably dismissed by many. Tate Liverpool’s exhibition focuses on this largely neglected period, including also drawings and sculptures done not long before the artist’s untimely death
Cy Twombly: Fifty Years of Works on Paper
An exhibition of more than 80 drawings by Cy Twombly is on show at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo. The works give an insight into the formation of Twombly’s characteristic style through process and experimentation
Patrick Scott: Image Space Light
Unsurprisingly coming from an architecture graduate, Scott’s work often revolved around order. Even though his career spanned 75 years and a wealth of mediums, there is a remarkable unity to his work, as if it arrived fully formed.