Awarded the Turner Prize in 2001 for his controversial Work 227: the lights going on and off, British artist Martin Creed remains firmly placed as a master of the overlooked moment. A crumpled ball of A4 paper, a stack of tiles piled on a floor, a wedged doorstop securing a door open at 45 degrees, neon signs bearing throw-away phrases such as DON’T WORRY, blue tak appended to a wall. Creed’s treatment of the commonplace is precisely why the seemingly insubstantial carries a surprising emotional charge. The artist’s expressive methods are simple, yet graceful ways in which he gives the viewer, and the world, pause. A smile. A frown. Make of it what you will. The freedom of interpretation and interconnection of people is what makes, and more importantly, sustains the work for Martin Creed.
Born 1968, in Wakefield, Martin Creed has always maintained his attempts to solve problems of composition, form and the occupation of space. By an act of ordering and display, Creed encourages work to transform itself through existing formal frameworks. Most importantly for the artist, it is the actual process of trying to make things from a point of reference: seeking a balance of what to make and its relation to the audience and the world we inhabit. Creed’s concerns are not about the end result, it is how to encapsulate the transient collisions that occur in breathing life to the mundane. The immediacy of his works have a profound impact, he asserts that things are only things, and relies on the power of their capacity to connect us to one another.
Hauser & Wirth are proud to present a new body of works by Martin Creed, in the artist’s first major solo exhibition in London since the Turner Prize. Recent major institutional shows include Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw and Kunsthalle Bern. The gallery is honoured in the addition of its first British artist and this show features important, exciting new work.
In the main gallery space Work No. 370: Balls (2004), a powerful cacophony of colour and size greets the viewer through Creed’s treatment of spatial relationships amongst numerous balls. Here, the artist broadens his exploration of tantalising relationships between things and people. Every ball is different, included: equal status is adhered to. However, there is a less pragmatic feel to Creed’s new work, as here, the possibilities are endless. This is also evident in Work No. 373: Highlight and marker pen drawings (2004) seen on the first floor, where sheets of A4 paper are immaculately filled in with single coloured pens. Alongside these drawings sits an intimate white neon glowing LOVE.
Although Creed employs a systematic paring-down to bare essentials in his work, he tries to embody the journey as far as possible in the visual result. This is an important reason in his choosing to compose and play music: as a facet to include his processes through a time-based piece, by performance. An aural counterpart for this show is seen in Work No. 371: Elevator ooh/aah up/down 2004 a beautiful four-part sung harmony, encountered through travelling in the gallery’s elevator. As it moves, the voices sing a musical scale, chromatically up or down.
The work of Martin Creed never forgets there is an audience who will view, listen, read. He places people at the forefront of his artistic process and it is the very reason his work will entail.
About the artist
‘Creed is a social artist; the true magic of his work lies in the way it interacts with people and places.’ Jones, Jonathan, ‘Martin Creed’s stairway to heaven,’ in theguardian.co.uk, London, UK, 1 August 2011, ill. (on Work No. 1059)Learn more