Gabriel Orozco at Tate Modern

In Exhibition reviews on January 18, 2011 at 10:06 am

Being a freelance journalist, for which read incorrigible freeloader, I love this time of year as it’s when the nice press officers in the big London galleries allow me to gatecrash their openings of major international exhibitions that would otherwise cost me a tenner, and probably a booking fee.

First up is the Gabriel Orozco retrospective at Tate Modern, a fairly slight show of a fairly young artist (he’s still in his 40s) that will nevertheless attract a lot of attention thanks to being publicised by the arresting image of a real human skull covered in a black checkerboard pattern (Black Kites 1997).

Now I’m not proposing to set myself up as a bona fide art critic (if you want some no-nonsense but clever insight by someone who knows what he’s talking about, I’d recommend Ossian Ward in Time Out, or read the curator’s blog) but it did strike me that a lot of Orozco’s work on show is the sort of thing you’d be more likely to find going viral in the blogosphere these days, put up by amateur photographers with an eye for the playful.

There’s one photo where he’s placed a tins of catfood with a cat’s face on top of a pile of watermelons, and another project in which the artist drove his Yellow Schwalbe scooter (an East German design classic) around Berlin and every time he found another, stopped to take a picture of the two as a pair:

Fun, yes, and something I’d definitely retweet, but I struggled to engage with it as chin-strokey art gallery fodder. [It’s called Until You Find Another Yellow Schwalbe, 1995, btw]

To be fair, there were a couple of pieces that genuinely moved me (such as the washing lines of grey tumble dryer lint that made me think of death), but the work I spent most time with was Obituaries, a simple idea that is basically just the headlines from NY Times obits written as a long list. Here are just a few of my favourites:

Villainous Pro-Wrestler

Actor Once Wed to Shirley Temple

British Cheese Crusader

Trotting Expert

Eccentric Even for England

Played Gangster and Hero Roles

Once Ran Kodak

Artist and Self-Made Man of Wax

Rapper Recorded Under Big Name Pun

A Dreamer

Basically the sort of thing you’d be delighted to stumble upon in a blog or trending hashtag, and would probably send round your office to distract everyone for 30 seconds.

I would love to see this man embrace blogging, but I’m not sure I’d have parted with a whole tenner for the show.

If you want to see more of Orozco’s work, because the stuff genuinely is quite fun for a coffee break, then MoMA’s website for the exhibition (it’s been there first) is rather good.

And here’s a bigger image of those cats and watermelons for people who love pictures of cats, or fruit (the work is called Cats and Watermelons):

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