David Shrigley’s immensely popular drawings span a boundary between fine art and cartoon drawing. He trained at Glasgow School of Art, but the popular books he sells now are more in the format of humorous comic books than artist’s books, both in terms of their presentation and the large print runs. In terms of the drawings themselves, they tend to have fairly neat and accessible concepts (often based on human relationships) with humour that appeals to a mass audience, as opposed to to the more cryptic messages and purely visual language associated with fine art. At the same time, his drawings often reference and satirize the fine art world.
Interested in drawing from a young age, Shrigley grew up in a very religous family, and one of his teenage memories was of his father throwing his Dungeons and Dragon’s set on a bonfire as it was seen as a malign influence. He notes that he remembers watching the dice melt.
Shrigley has a very dynamic artistic process where he produces dozens of drawings each day, and throws away the majority. His work has been compared to outsider art due to its odd viewpoint and deliberately limited technique. All though the spelling mistakes and crossings-out add to the darkly humorous quality of his work, he insists these are actually genuine – “I’m not pretending to be bad at spelling — I am bad at spelling. I also genuinely make a lot of mistakes when I write things down.”
The exhibition at London’s Hayward Gallery (part of the South Bank Centre) is his first major show in London, and will inclkude the full range of Shrigley’s exprssion, from drawing to photography, books, sculpture, animation, painting and music. Shrigley has worked in a prolific range of genres and media, including directing the music video for Blur’s “Good Song.”
David Shrigley: Brain Activity is at the South Bank Centre’s Hayward Gallery in London until 13 May.