This summer, the Hauser & Wirth Gallery on Savile Row is getting quite dirty, both literally and figuratively. But who is to blame? The answer is: Californian artist Richard Jackson, who transformed the neat and white exhibition space in a messy and colorful shambles. A few steps away from the building, you can already see that “something happened”. Without even entering the space, you distinguish a massive yellow horse put upside down on a bright pink base, some rainbow paint splashes on the walls, and in the center, a funny smiling clown doing acrobatics.
Finally entering the gallery space, you will be just as surprised to find a row of mannequins with lowered trousers and bottoms facing the maculate wall, a secretary lookalike sex doll seating open legs on a copier and sending nice pictures of her intimacy, and lastly, a white-tiled shower full of wet paint smearings.
Paying more attention to the display, you will start to see that almost every single piece is the result of a well-calculated and mechanical process. Paint pumps are connected through tubing to the funny characters; the copier used to produce the pictures is still present, as if it was an invitation to get your own copy. In other words, we are in the middle of an unfinished and ongoing process; an installation that would need a few more days to get settled (electrical wiring is out and nothing is done to hide it, the bin is full of crinkled papers and left in the middle of the room). The performative aspect of the exhibition is so obvious that one of the visitors innocently started to push a paint pump, before a gallery assistant told him he was not supposed to do so!
In brief, Richard Jackson presents us with new paintings that aren’t quite what one might expect from the world “painting”, rather the opposite. This heir of both abstract expressionists and pop artists manages to reconcile both movements with this surprising and powerful show. The exhibiton might leave you dubious and stunned, it might also make you laugh a lot, but what is certain is that it’s worth the move.
“You’re not a typical painter, what can we expect of the show? It’s an experience; it’s evidence of an action of a performance. I always see it as entertainment.
Why can’t we view the painting machines in action? Because it would give the viewer too much information, then they don’t have to use their imagination. I’m trying to provoke their thinking.” *
“I think painting doesn’t relate so well to what’s going on. It’s basically married to old materials and old tradition. It’s overdue to change. Painting is really liquidity; it’s the market’s cash. And until somebody challenges that idea, it’s going to go on for ever and just be boring. (…) I’m trying to change the way people think about painting and how they relate to it and how painting can occupy a space and be there temporarily.” *
For more information and pictures, please visit the Hauser & Wirth Gallery website.
* Both quotes comming from a Time Out interview.