From the Outside In; David Shrigley’s Road to Acceptance in the Art World.

Jan 26th, 2012 | By | Category: London News

Outsider art is an often-maligned genre, encompassing extreme mental states (outsider art is often created by institutionalized people), unconventional ideas and elaborate fantasy worlds. Many works of outsider art aren’t discovered until the artist has died, or the work isn’t recognised as valuable in the artist’s lifetime, but every once in a while an artist manages to break the mold, and David Shrigley does that in more ways than one. Shrigley has used his position outside the fine art establishment to carve himself a cult niche, and he has benefited greatly from his outsider status, with a legion of fans behind him. Despite lacking the fine art credentials, he appears to have made the crossover into the world of ‘real’ artists. The biggest indicator of this aside from his range of notebooks, greetings cards and books, is that he has a new solo show on at the Hayward Gallery in February.


Shrigley’s work is a joy to behold, sometimes humorous, such as a stuffed cat holding a sign saying ‘I’m Dead’, sometimes poignant, but always bizarre. Shrigley’s work investigates the possibilities of play in art, shrugging off elitism and snobbery in favour of a knowing wink and a sly grin, with tongue placed firmly in cheek. His rambling notes, crossed out words, curious creatures, crude slogans and knock off biro drawings of old masterpieces are endearing but belie a hidden depth beyond their silly facades. It will be interesting to see how Shrigley’s work translates to a gallery setting. He started out by leaving random scribbles and notes attached to dustbins and lamp poles for people to find and be bemused by, but in a gallery, the intimacy of some of his work might be lost.


Despite this, the show will undoubtedly be filled and praised by Shrigley’s growing fan base and admirers. At this stage in his career, with bands requesting pieces for album covers and art critics fawning over him, Shrigley’s work is much coveted, and it is only a matter of time until his work is selling for millions and his outsider past is a distant memory, so try to make time for this show, because it might be all too serious the next time around.

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