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Martin Creed

24 September — 16 November 2008

This exhibition was a survey of new and recent works by acclaimed British artist Martin Creed, including  pieces commissioned by Ikon, plus associated events. It was one of Creed’s most comprehensive and ambitious exhibition to date.

Since his emergence as an artist, during the early 1990s, Creed has developed a practice characterised at once by conceptual stringency and a touching, deceptive, simplicity. Logic is often taken to humorous extremes, resulting in something that is next to nothing, or alternatively a work that is completely arresting in its effect on the audience. Creed memorably won the Turner Prize in 2001, exhibiting at Tate Britain his installation Work No. 160 (The lights going on and off, 1996), a version of which was located in Ikon’s Tower Room.

The idea of art as something distinct does not apply to the work of Martin Creed. The unpretentious realism, asserting continuity between his artistic gestures and everyday life, is powerfully obvious in Works No. 583 and 730 (the Sick and Sex films respectively, 2006 and 2007),  which could not be more engaging in their stark depiction of basic human behaviour. Other works  here have an irresistible charm, revealing Creed’s distinct take on life, making sense of random experience through idiosyncratic order.

Work No. 587 (2006) consists of potted cacti placed in a line according to their increasing height, ranging from ten centimetres to over two metres, whilst Work No. 670 (Orson and Sparky, 2007), features two dogs, one very small and one very large, simply walking across a studio floor. These works epitomise the artist’s amused fascination with the world and his impulse to respond with a candour that is compelling.

Following Ikon, the exhibition will tour to Seoul (Artsonje Centre), Hiroshima (City Museum of Contemporary Art) and Lima (Museo de Arte).

Martin Creed did a talk at Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, Margaret Street on Friday 3 October 2008. Please download a transcript of the talk.

Martin Creed’s exhibition is supported by The Henry Moore Foundation.