A conceptual artist with a dry sense of humor, Angus Fairhurst was associated with the Goldsmiths College Group, who famously staged the 1988 exhibition “Freeze”—curated by Damien Hirst—in an empty London Port Authority Building in the Docklands of the East End. Although achieving less notoriety than his peers, including Gary Hume, Sarah Lucas, and Tracy Emin, Fairhurst’s coy anti-establishment stance and interest in popular culture resonate with the dominant concerns of the era. Fairhurst’s work manifests in abstract and absurd ways through collage, sculpture, painting, installation, and performance. The summer exhibition at Paul Stolper Gallery takes a comprehensive look at the printed work of the late Fairhurst, including etchings and screenprints.
The prints on view include Fairhurst’s earliest; among them, the single edition When I woke up in the morning the feeling was still there (1992, from the London Portfolio, Paragon Press), in which a solid square of canary yellow is misregistered over the top of a modest blank canvas, held by an artist in a black-and-white photo reproduction, who stands earnestly in an unrenovated warehouse studio. The series of four screenprints of the same title (from 1997) provide the pictured artist with a more extensive palette—including grass green, ruby red, and bright azure blue. Building on this early imagery, Fairhurst’s graphic screenprint Proposal for a Public Space (2006, from the Serpentine Portfolio) imagines brighter versions of the four canvases (now coral, marigold, lime, fuchsia) in a damp underground space—that appears at once civic, sinister, and forlorn—where the person of the artist, and the evidence of his labor, are no longer present.
For the ultraviolet-tinted etchings Unprinted 1 (2005), Unprinted 2 (2006), and Unprinted 3 (2006), the abstracted forms of figures stripped from street and print advertisements are flattened into intimate compositions—made more sensual by the detail the artist has omitted. These works develop the hybrid imagery resulting from Fairhurst’s practice of décollage (peeled and layered pages cut from fashion and lifestyle magazines) and studies of the tensions between presence and absence, representation and abstraction.
“Angus Fairhurst, Unprinted: Graphic works from 1992 - 2006” is on view at Paul Stolper Gallery, London, Jun. 25th – Aug. 28th.