Tom Friedman: Monsters and Stuff, Gagosian Gallery, London
Thursday 05 June 2008
There are a group of contemporary artists who are hunter-gatherers. They collect ordinary "stuff" and transform it into something magical. Tom Friedman is at the forefront of this school which also includes other Americans, Sarah Sze and the late Jason Rhoades, and British artist Tony Cragg. Friedman is the master of alchemy, not only collecting and arranging as Sze and Rhoades largely do but often using new materials. Unlike traditional alchemists Friedman is not turning base metal into gold but pencil shavings into expensive art works. Paper cups, dental floss, dust, pencil sharpenings, and hair of all varieties are here.
In the past, an artist was usually confined to traditional materials of paint or clay, bronze or marble. The Friedman equivalent is Ogre (2008) a piece in which the artist has evoked a monster out of bits of white paper, but this is not just a simple cutout or collage, here the paper has been pierced, twisted, torn and rolled into shapes that reassemble themselves into a discernible form in front of your eyes.
Early in the 20th century, vanguard Swiss artist Kurt Schwitters collected papers from the streets and turned them into fragile collages. Picasso incorporated toy cars and bicycle handlebars in his sculptures. Friedman takes these ideas and plays with them. Collages are made from shredded paper to create works that are beautiful but also contain playful trompe l'oeil elements – clutching fingers and hairy legs.
After recently observing an increasingly gloomy output by contemporary artists, it is a relief to see something that is colourful and humorous. Take Friedman's depiction of the Big Bang. It is a work on paper, the surface of which is covered in glitter. It is only on closer investigation that you notice the tufts of hair, the rips and peeling areas which reveal that the subject is not a happy one. Popping eyes remind you of the fake eyeballs that Friedman has made his own in the past. It is the closest that Friedman gets to saying to the viewer that one should not always believe what the eye is telling them.
To 25 July (020-7841 9960)
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
- 2 Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
- 3 Lady al-Qa’ida: On the trail of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the world’s most wanted prisoner
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 It's not just the savagery of Isis that is shocking – its weaponry is too
Strictly Come Dancing 2014: Gregg Wallace joins line-up as final celebrities revealed
Unseen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory chapter deemed 'too subversive' released
X Factor, ITV, review: Simon Cowell banned sob stories but Cheryl Cole can’t stop crying
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
- < Previous
- Next >