For those who might occasionally feel lost in the labyrinth of the contemporary art world, this playful tome offers bite-sized, digestible texts as a way in to many of its themes and concerns, as seen through the work of one of the UK’s best known artists.
Gavin Turk — one of the group of artists known in the British media as YBAs — might seem a familiar figure to us, but how many of us really know or understand what we are looking at when we see a piece of his work? A diverse mix of contributors were invited to discuss his recurring motifs — from eggs to trash, via tramps and punk. Each short essay is accompanied by illustrations; signposting shows how they interconnect and overlap along the way.
The book’s title is a playful spoof on René Magritte’s famous work Ceci n’est pas une pipe, because it is not biographical or even really about Turk’s work. Instead it unpacks the imagery and references within it with the help of a myriad of writers, artists and thinkers, from Damien Hirst to Hari Kunzru, taking the reader on a tragi-comic jamboree through the contemporary world, seen through the eyes of the artist Gavin Turk.
The book was launched at TJ Boulting Gallery alongside an exhibition of new work by the book's illustrator Jim Hollingworth (JIMP), presented by Gavin Turk. 10% of proceeds go to The House of Fairy Tales, a children's arts and education charity.