Vanacular at the Gervasuti Foundation
29 May - 24 November 2013
Gallery: The Gervasuti Foundation
To coincide with the 55th Venice Biennale, the Gervasuti Foundation is presenting a solo project by British artist Gavin Turk entitled Vanacular comprising a selection from his ongoing Transit Disaster series. The title is a pun on ‘van’ and ‘vernacular‘, a metaphor implying the social connotations that the iconic white Ford van of the ‘90s represents in British society.
Turk often recycles famous art historical imagery in order to make contemporary societal correlations. Vanacular revives the classic pop-art technique of silk-screen-on-canvas while referencing the works of its most celebrated exponents Andy Warhol and Robert Raushenberg with his 18 metre long Currents (1970).
Inspired by Warhol’s famous Death And Disaster series (1962-3), which were derived from photographs of fatal car accidents taken from newspapers, Turk’s Vanacular comprises a continuous 27 metre long canvas with a selection of Internet sourced images of crashed and burnt-out Ford Transit vans. The expressive shapes of the distorted metal, every scratch as if charged with meaning, also allude to the underlying social tensions that led to the 2011 London riots which some of these images come from. The repeated still images silk-screened in a ‘Warhol style’ range of colour combinations produce an animated effect as if to suggest a disaster movie. The orchestration of colours enhances this sense motion that in turn effects a transformation or change from the stasis of the crashed vans into a new energy or lifeforce.
Transit Disaster series is not merely a pastiche of Warhol’s famous car crash paintings since Turk replaces the American car with an image of a white transit van, a symbol of a disappearing era of working class Britain. It is perhaps ironical that the Mercedes Sprinter that has largely superseded the Ford van includes a safety feature called ‘Collision Prevention Assist’. Vanacular also relates, albeit indirectly, to the term ‘Fordism’, the notion of a modern economic and social system based on assembly line system of mass production for a mass market. Turk’s Vanacular represents a visual manifestation of urban unrest, which through continuous clashes and disasters is heading towards a materialistic mutation.