Haunted Realism | Gagosian

This is a typically epically show-offy group exhibition, in which various contemporary and 20th century A-listers face each other down in large galleries police by black-clad security men. A confluence of art celebrity, crammed together: here, a wall full of Richard Prince photos loomed over a Rachel Whiteread bed; there, a Jenny Saville bum rubbed against what looked to be a string shopping bag with a chunk of polystyrene inside (in fact it was a bronze and marble sculpture from Tatiana Trouvé).

I’m not snarking, there’s something delightful about that much star power in one place, and there were loads of unexpected great works to see. The gallery states they are aiming for a vibe of “ghostlike… lost futures” with this exhibition. My favourite example of that is pictured below: Industrial Complex, produced by Richard Artschwager in 1967.

richard artschwager - industrial complex

The grainy black and white image is of a low-slung, featureless, inscrutable building, designed for no-nonsense work. Artschwager painted it (in acrylics) on celotex. Or, insulation board. We can barely make out the building, given the heavy background pattern of the backboard. It’s a highly characteristic work from Artschwager, who painted on other rough and ready materials like formica during the 60s.

The work also reminded me of an awesome show I saw at Lévy Gorvy a few years back, based around artists in the same era taking inspiration from the ben-day dot: people like Gerald Laing and Sigmar Polke reproducing rough print magazine images as high-luxury art objects.

Back at Gagosian though, it was great to see a work that so thoroughly hit the brief provided by the show notes. An industrial building depicted on rough industrial material. A material that lends the work an air of rugged mystery that seems… well… haunted.

Haunted Realism is at Gagosian (London). 09 June - 26 August 2022