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)
Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year
TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Which country would be hardest to invade?
- 2 Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
- 3 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 4 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 5 Royal baby girl born: Duchess of Cambridge's second child will be a princess thanks to Queen
Avengers: Age of Ultron set to make box office history with $84.5m US opening
London Marathon: Best running songs from Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to 'Uptown Funk'
The highly NSFW poster for Gaspar Noé's Love makes Nymphomaniac look like 50 Shades
Red Dwarf returns: Craig Charles quits Coronation Street to return to comedy sci-fi series
New on Netflix UK May 2015: From Fast & Furious 6 to World War Z and Grace and Frankie
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
Indonesia executions live: 'Hysterical' families heard prisoners being shot dead by firing squad
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds