To encounter Martin Creed is to face the human embodiment of his work. Creed appears in the front gallery of Hauser & Wirth, Somerset for a tour of his most recent exhibition, entitled ‘What You Find,’ dressed in a medley of colours and motifs that might find him a place in Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. Tastefully, Creed is an aesthetic conglomeration, as is his most recent show, composed of an array of works including paintings, sculptures, video and sound pieces produced during his two-month residency at The Maltings Studios in the local town of Bruton. As he speaks on the exhibition, Creed gives a clear impression that the works created for ‘What You Find’ diversely attempt an artistic investigation into the collision of art and life. The exhibition is concerned with challenging restrictive borders, parameters and definitions characteristically applied to art and everyday experience.
Creed’s reputable interpretation of commonplace materials and experiences as art remains apparent in this recent body of work; small mounds of rubbish arranged on the floor in casual compositions share space with dead flower bouquets quietly posed on plinths, for instance. In the largest gallery, three distinct Fiat cars of blue, red and green are aligned to make reference to a tri-colour painting. These and many other works incorporate objects Creed appropriates from his daily life experience, serving as examples that art can be interpreted through objects and materials as they exist in their inherent state; the acts of fabrication, manipulation and definition, for Creed, are not requirements in the process of art-making.“I’ve been trying to improvise all this work using stuff that I’ve already got—,” he says, “trying not to bring stuff in.” Categorically speaking, the art is there already.
Many of the paintings demonstrate Creed’s attempt to relinquish control and evade parameters that define artistic value or taste. Vast, colourful canvases are created by paint being thrown at the supports from a distance so the artist “avoids deciding on the composition at all.” The paintings employ various brands and types of paint, and their end configurations are randomly formed by the movement of the material itself, allowing the paint to define its own artistic form. Complimenting these are free-standing perspex paintings relating to the size of the body. These too are layered in multicoloured drips and splashes, while revealing through their transparent structures the world existing beyond their forms. Creed considers the use of perspex as a formal experiment to visually enmesh art and life, and reject the notion of separating work from the rest of the world. “The idea was to make a painting you can see through, so life becomes a part of the painting,” he explains.
‘What You Find’ most apparently reveals Creed’s concerns regarding boundaries and methods of control when applied to art-making and the role of the artist, but many pieces in the show carry these concerns beyond the context of the creative process into that of life and identity. The film ‘Border Control’ for example choreographs images referencing border security, immigration, and spaces of limited accessibility with a repetitive soundtrack produced by Creed’s band. As portrayed in the video, these ever-present examples of control encountered in daily life experience appear darkly humorous, untrustworthy, and absurd.
In a diverse yet concise manner, ‘What You Find’ presents visitors with a light hearted and visually appealing debate on the function of borders and defined parameters when applied to art and life, while emphasising the importance of confronting conventional methods of control to arrive at freedom for creativity and humanity alike.