‘The choreography of mediatised reality’
--Will Self, ‘The Bounds of Inner Space’ Gagosian Gallery Catalogue 2010
We are not living in the real world, but merely exist in a virtual dimension, held like flies in aspic by shifting screens and filters which drip feed sensations of experience: violence, pleasure, the monstrous, the curious. These filters are precisely created episodes of a world theatre, a continuous and totally involving soap opera. ‘CRASH: Homage to J.G.Ballard’ makes a generous slice of postmodern culture. This fantastic wedge of art includes some classic works, ranging from Giorgio di Chirico to Damien Hirst.
(DAMIEN HIRST, Suicide Bomber (Aftermath), 2004-2005, Oil on canvas, 72 x 48 inches, 182.9 x 121.9 cm)
At the entrance you are confronted by a fragment of a Boeing undercarriage, Honda Teen Fail by Adam McEwen; you can then choose to turn right to a multi-video projection by Jane and Louise Wilson, Proton, Unity, Energy, Blizzard, or left to find Helmut Newton’s fetish girls, strapped, wounded and corseted. Gallery 1 includes a 1963 Warhol Disaster in green, of a body flung from a crumpled Cadillac. Equally powerful is a stark photo-real painting from 2004/05, Suicide Bomber-Aftermath by Damien Hirst, who also contributes a really grisly surgical table When Logics Die 1999. In the Suicide painting photo-real blood trails over a gleaming white car bonnet, the windscreen smashed by bullet star-bursts, imaged in hallucinatory detail. Some pieces made children cry: Jenny Saville’s gigantic and particularly gruesome smashed face, Witness.
It’s an ambitious show in the range of its compass. There is humour– a gently pulsing animatronic pig by Paul McCarthy; a fluffy nuclear mushroom cloud by Carsten Höller. There are odd bits of art history: a Paul Delvaux inside-outside street scene, Le Canapé Bleu 1967; a classic painting, Intermission by Edward Hopper 1963.
(PAUL DELVAUX, Le canapé bleu, 1967, Oil on canvas, 55 1/8 x 70 7/8 inches, 140 x 180 cm)
The journey is searching, subtle and reflective. J.G.Ballard would, I think, have been stimulated by the intense individual visions and touched by the sincerity of the exhibition’s tribute.
(top image: ROY LICHTENSTEIN, Explosion II, 1965, Enamel on steel, 88 x 60 x 4 1/2 inches, 223.5 x 152.4 x 11.4 cm. All images courtesy of Gagosian Gallery, London.)