Rack ’em up: British Contemporary Editions, 1990 – 2000 focusses on editions produced by the YBA. The survey, the first of its kind ever staged, brings together works by all of the leading figures of the period, including Keith Coventry, Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas and Gavin Turk, and seeks to capture the irreverent and exuberant flavour of the era.
While Hirst (b.1965, Bristol) is now renowned for his editioned works, a process he feels democratises art, he in fact made very few at the start of his career. A highlight is The Last Supper series, 1999, 13 large screen- prints which take as their inspiration the clean graphical form of pharmaceutical packaging. For these, Hirst replaced the name of the drug with that of a food traditional to working-class British cafe culture, such as corned beef and sausages, transforming them into a brand by the addition of the insignia ®, TM or decorative typescript. Such variations on the artist’s name, such as ‘Hirst’, ‘HirstDamien’, ‘Hirst Products Limited’, also set in a range of typescripts, take the place of the usual drug manufacturer’s logo. On the print ‘Chicken,’ a penis-shaped logo in a black circle above Hirst’s name parodies the brand logos that companies commission to reflect their corporate identities.
From Sarah Lucas (b.1962, Holloway), who this year represents Great Britain at the Venice Biennale, is a compelling set of 12 self-portraits, including Self Portrait with Fried Eggs, 1996, a nod to one of her most famous sculptures, Two Fried Eggs and Kebab 1992, in which a reclining naked female body is constructed from a table with two eggs and a kebab. Keith Coventry (b.1958, Burnley), who like Hirst and Lucas featured in Charles Saatchi’s legendary Sensation show at the Royal Academy in 1997, created many objects in this period, two of which feature in this exhibition. Inhaler, 1998, appears at first glance to be a true-to-size plastic model of an asthma inhaler, however closer inspection reveals it has been adapted for a darker purpose; as an instrument for smoking crack cocaine. Meanwhile, White Abstract Painting Kit, 1995, is a box which contains everything needed to create one of Coventry’s celebrated white abstract paintings.
The show, curated by Mark Inglefield, will be on display at Shapero Modern from March 4th to March 27th 2015.