Liam Gillick at Maureen Paley

I think Mr Liam Gillick is an incredibly bright artist. But, somehow, he wears his brightness lightly.

His art is also incredibly bright, brilliantly bright stuff. it is so intelligent. But even though I don’t get all the references, I still enjoy it and that is strange, that it is pleasurable without being obvious. It is witty, without being ‘knowing’ (I don’t like knowing) and joyful.

The current show at Maureen Paley opened last night.. He said that the show has been touring around some strange and not obvious locations. Now we get to see it in London.


The work consists of three rooms with installations, texts, audios or videos. While I realised it was very intellectual, I also just enjoyed it. I think it is meant to be enjoyed. There is even ‘sparkle’ on the floor.

LIAM GILLICK When Do We Need More Tractors (Five Plans), 1999

The sort of wigwam of wood looks like a place to be in, but there is no entrance. He has his meeting places under the perspex fins, a more public space. There is a sense of interaction. I guess there is the interaction of  the maker of the art and the person ‘reading’ the art.

I read the press release before I went. It includes this quote:

“A truly isolated investigator is impossible (…). An isolated investigator without bias and tradition, without forces of mental society acting upon him, and without the effect of the evolution of that society, would be blind and thoughtless. Thinking is a collective activity (…). Its product is a certain picture, which is visible only to anybody who takes part in this social activity, or a thought which is also clear to the members of the collective only. What we do think and how we do see depends on the thought-collective to which we belong” – Ludwik Fleck, 1935

The work looks at this and the interaction between Fleck and Mary Douglas, the anthropologist.  I love Mary Douglas. I quote her in various scenarios. My favourite phrase of hers is ‘dirt is matter in the wrong place’. Brilliant. Well Liam Gillick was interested in this collaboration and in how we do not really invent alone. To quote from a book I am reading (The Epigenetics Revolution by Nessa Carey) she quotes Sir William Bragg, a famous scientist saying ‘The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them.’  Perhaps that is what post-modernism is saying too. And perhaps it is partly what Gillick’s work is, looking anew and seeing how these ideas are reached. Or that is what I got from it.

That we do not invent alone.

That we are all connected.

That ideas are relationships.

There is also a new and lovely book out of his:

From Nineteen Ninety A to Nineteen Ninety D, published by JRP|Ringier.

At £25 it is worth it. Really.

If you want a meditative moment to reflect on thoughts, cultures, ideas and how we got here, a trip to Bethnal Green may help.

I’m sort of blown away by it. I might not get it all, but I loved it.

A brilliant shiny (sparkly) joyful art. Sheer delight.



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