Dealing with issues of authorship, authenticity and identity, British Surrealist Gavin Turk explores the institutions of art, our contemporary value systems and our power structures through portraits of anti-heroes and art-historical icons. He is also known for his installations and sculpture, many of which playfully employ recycled rubbish and common objects in their composition.
Turk studied at Chelsea School of Art and then the Royal College of Art until 1991, where he was noticed by Charles Saatchi and included in several YBA exhibitions. His work has since been collected and exhibited by major museums and galleries worldwide.
In May 2019, Turk was involved with ‘Gavin Turk – Portrait of an Egg,’ a special exhibition held in association with Photo London at Somerset House. Using his large sculpture of a bronze egg as inspiration, he encouraged the public to contribute an original photograph inspired by an egg.
Turk has continually returned to the form of the egg throughout his career. The shape and concept of an egg is a heavily charged archetype, containing ideas of beginning and end, the alpha and omega, the inside and the outside. Turk explores these concepts in his work Holy Egg (Blue), an egg-shaped painting that is dramatically perforated to reveal Gavin Turk's initials subtly cast by the holes. The violent punctures on the surface serve to reveal the empty space behind the canvas whilst remitting the painting to a three-dimensional object, yet also alluding to Jesus Christ's stigmata.
An appropriation of Lucio Fontana's Fine di Dio from his series ‘The End of God’ (1963-4), Holy Egg (Blue) is also an example of Turk’s engagement with recognisable elements from art history. Fontana similarly punctured his egg-shaped canvas in, what he called, a ‘radical gesture that broke the space of the picture’. He claimed that the constellation of holes ‘signify the infinite, something inconceivable, the end of the figurative representation, the beginning of nothing’. As Turk has drawn a single fine line that circumscribes egg, so too did Fontana, thus rendering the work wholly self-contained.
Part of a series, Holy Egg (Blue) explores the relationship and dichotomy between art and religion through the religious symbolism associated with the egg, all while alluding to the canon of art history.