Hauser & Wirth Zürich is pleased to present an exhibition of new work from Martin Creed, which opens on 29 August 2015. Featuring works made in wood, plastic, neon, wool, canvas and carpet tiles, the exhibition highlights Creed’s innovative approach to a broad range of materials and his ongoing fascination with the commonplace.
‘You can’t separate anything from peoples’ experience of it, and since people are living beings who, who, who die, you know, err… it basically means nothing is ever the same, you know, from moment to moment. So I, so I think that that, so thinking about that got me into thinking, oh, I should, I need to make work in the light of that. And so, and I think that got me into making a lot of work that does change, that is, that is basically like a live event. But that comes from thinking that everything is a live event, you know. A painting on a wall is a live event, because the painting is only on the wall if people are looking at it and, sort of, realising that it’s on the wall, you know. And so the combination of the painting and the people: that’s a live event…’
– Martin Creed
In Your Face: Interview, Martin Creed with Carrie Scott, Miami FL, December 2014
For Creed, there is no border between life and art. His approach means that he can use any form of expression or media, since the key element for him is the process of creation – in his words, ‘trying to live life better’. Frequently he will make works that develop out of a set of instructions or rules he imposes on himself. Seeing what happens when certain components are tied down is typical of the playful spirit in which he lets his ideas develop. For instance, in a work such as ‘Work No. 2209 Woman with dog at a table’ (2015), Creed painted without a visual source, using only the verbal cues from listening to someone else describing a photograph.
Creed also experiments by means of accumulation, often creating forms of progression in size, height, tone, or by presenting things ordered, classified or stacked to create idiosyncratic and purposeless taxonomies. ‘Work No. 1804’ (2014) consists of a modular steel framework, containing as many different types of clear and textured glass that were available at the time of production. A similar system can be seen in the vibrant ‘Work No. 2329’ (2015), where 12 individual wooden boards painted in different colours of imitation wood grain form a polychromatic field.
Creed respects things for the way they are, often engaging in very minimal interventions, in a way letting materials speak for themselves. ‘Work No. 2309’ (2015) and Work No. 2157’ (2015) each consist of 16 uniform bands of different coloured wool, one set of which consists of a range of all the available un-dyed natural fibres, the other a randomly arranged complete spectrum of dyed varieties. This play with ideas of series and sequences, variation and repetition, is in Creed’s case an end in itself, the seed or ingredient for making a picture and the picture itself.
Words and sound play an essential role in Martin Creed’s work. He considers his work as a musician and composer as inseparable from his work as a visual artist. Indeed, his paintings and sculptures can be thought of very much like pieces of music, in which each interpretation is different and in which rhythm and colour plays an important role. In ‘Work No. 2325’ (2015), nine differently coloured and evenly spaced neon tubes spell out the word WHATEVER. Its ambiguity as colloquial street slang, utterly democratic or pure nonsense is quintessentially Creed.
To reduce the gap between art practice as a discipline and the real world as life, since 2011 Creed has worked directly in the gallery in the weeks before the opening of an exhibition. He understands ‘art’ not as a defined concept but as something immediate, creative and live. He is increasingly interested in the performative nature of painting and the particular relationship between a body’s movements and the shapes it produces. In this exhibition, certain works have been made working with dancers whose movement, with paintbrushes held in their feet, translates directly as the forms produced on the painting. Reconciling the flux of reality and working across all media, Creed’s practice represents the true juncture of art and life.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Creed has developed a number of wall paintings which are presented in the public space of the Löwenbräu. Like all works by Creed, these wall paintings are subordinated to strict rules and executed by commercial paint rollers. The stripes match exactly with the width of the paint rollers and cover 50% of the wall.
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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