David Shrigley is primarily known for his crudely drawn cartoons, having worked for both the Guardian and the New Statesman in the past. The best comparator for his work would be the ‘Far Side’ cartoons by Gary Larson, but Shrigley’s cartoons have a much darker undercurrent and highlight his dislike for societal norms and the banality of everyday life.
Though there are plenty of cartoons on display — many that are brilliantly funny — the purpose of this exhibition is to highlight Shrigley’s progression on to other media. His surreal and often abstract sense of humour translates well into photography, paint and film, but less so into sculpture. His humour might feel hit and miss to some, but this display is guaranteed to attract new fans.
Some artworks will make you smile, if not burst out loud laughing. A personal favourite is the lost-pet poster that asks passers-by to call if they spot a grey pigeon that doesn’t answer to a specific name.
The surrealism stretches to the layout of the exhibition itself. The display starts in the lift, and there’s a wall with a hole giving crawl access to the next gallery. The curators have done an excellent job of bringing Shrigley’s world to life, keeping the tone light-hearted – a must if you want to truly enjoy Shrigley’s art for what it is.
If you can appreciate a wicked, and often abstract, sense of humour, then you won’t want to miss this.
David Shrigley: Brain Activity is on display at the Hayward Gallery until 13 May. Admission is £8 for adults, concessions available. For more information, visit the Southbank's website.
By Tabish Khan