Monday, April 25, 2011

Angus Fairhurst; doomed to be remembered for his suicide or great artist?

Angus Fairhurst, born in Kent in 1966, was one of the Young British Artists. Like most of them, he went to Goldsmith's college and set the tone for contemporary art in the United Kingdom for two decades. He took part in the 1988 exhibition Freeze, the seminal event for the YBAs. In 2008, he commited suicide at the age of 48 by hanging himself in a wood at the last day of his exhibition at the Sadie Coles Gallery.

His entire oeuvre shows that he was a versatile artist; his paintings, performance, animation, photography, video, sculpture, music, prints, drawings and collages show his resistance to categorisation. Fairhurst was fascinated by the absurdity of life and art. We live our lives, without thinking too much about it; we are born, we wake up, we work, we sleep and we die.

In his work, he is also inspired by sex, desire, advertising and society. Turning around the question of art, he realised that he was part of the art world but at the same time he didn't take it too serious. A famous example of this view is the play with the two phones in his "Gallery connections". Fairhurst rang two different galeries simultaneously, held the handsets together, let them talk to each other and put the Gallery scene in London upside down.

Fairhurst had a passion for gorillas, in his art they are often represented in a very domestic situation. "A Couple of Differences between Thinking and Feeling" (2003) shows a gorilla looking at his detached arm lying on the ground.

As the director of Tate Britain, Stephen Deuchar said "Angus's death is a tragic loss to British art. He was a brilliantly inventive, witty and provocative artist, always modest about his fundamentally important contribution to the soaring international reputation of British art since the 1990's."

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