Hauser & Wirth Somerset: Martin Creed

As the last of the summer creeps into the irresistible autumn glow of September, the art world is just getting warmed up. With so much to look forward to in the fall months – Frieze Week, The Turner Prize, Season Openings – its easy to peg summer as a muted, recurrent stretch for galleries. Somewhat due to the climate, places like New York and Rome simply become too stiflingly hot to gallery hop, but also by degree due to migration from city dweller to globetrotter (more candidly referred to as holiday-goer). Consumed by wanderlust – or just desperate escapism – people flee the sweltering concrete jungles. Yet, sardine-canesque budget flights needn’t be taken when the alluring and unusual reside a train ride away from London, by the rolling hills of Bruton in Somerset.

Hauser & Wirth Somerset opened its doors on Durslade Farm in July 2014. Midsummer, for a gallery opening? Despite being the reserved time of year for gallery openings, the institutions multi-purpose arts centre presented not only an intriguing display space but also a spectacular landscaped garden designed by landscape architect Piet Oudolf. The site has no doubt been highly successful since its opening, with standout exhibitions by Phyllida Barlow, Franz West, Pipilotti Rist and Subodh Gupta to name a few. Hauser & Wirth Somerset also finds a home for Serpentine Galleries 2014 Pavilion, designed by Chilean architect Smiljan Radić.

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The most recent escapade of the Bruton-based establishment, sees the balmy and wondrous work of Martin Creed rouse the restored barn walls of Durslade Farm. Sound work, installation, film and painting erupt throughout the gallery, spilling from wall to window to garden. The familiar wacky sound of Creed’s Scottish choral voice vibrates all through the barns restored facade; abrasive swearing is intertwined with soft, melodic singing, each pronounced through a variety of old and new speakers.

Colour is a predominant force in Creed’s Somerset exhibition. We see his recognisable stripe paintings juxtaposed with newer work, revealing unexplored territory for Creed. Tiny, abstract paintings indulge us in rich chromatic parades of expression; his acrylic on perspex and canvas expose an abstract expressionist form of work not dissimilar to the brand of Jackson Pollock. Still, we are not drawn too far from the commonplace notions Creed upholds. Domestic objects reign the gallery with vintage Fiat cars parked up as installations (paintings correlating the wagons colours and forms in the boot) and toppling jars, tins and tubes adopting plinths. Even the artist’s fondness for rubbish prevails the museum standard, gathering in cardboard boxes on the floor or congregating in trees external to the gallery walls.

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It is absolutely Creed’s far-reaching and unorthodox practice that brings presence to the galleries of Hauser & Wirth Somerset. His ability to morph into differing characters, whether it be when Creed dons copious outfits, hairstyles and glasses (Work No. 2656 Understanding 2011) or when he alternates between film maker, musician and painter, his practice sustains a captivating fascination for all audiences.

Martin Creed: What You Find is on display at Hauser & Wirth Somerset until Sunday 11 September. Don’t miss this exuberant exhibition by the 2001 Turner Prize winner.

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