In San Francisco, for many of us, our pets are almost like children and the thought of losing one brings so much trepidation that surely some of us have jokingly considered stuffing our pug or Pomeranian postmortem.
Scottish visual artist David Shrigley has made a point of making those disquieting questions about the afterlife front-and-center with his taxidermy-like animals which have garnered a lot of press–the most popular piece being a Jack Russel Terrier holding a sign proclaiming “I’m Dead.” Akin to matriarch Addie Bundren who appears to narrate from beyond the grave in Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, Shrigley’s plaster of Paris pooch, or uncannily reanimated doggy corpse, seems to serve as a droll comment on the fragility and brevity of animal existence, and by extension, human existence.
Underlying Shrigley’s ostensibly straightforward subjects and situations that he creates through the use of sculptures, cartoon drawings and animations is a mordant sensibility and complexity that lies just below the surface. His conceptual art makes incisive, cleverly presented ideas the focus rather than careful material craftsmanship.
Shrigley’s latest exhibition, Brain Activity, will be on display at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts through September 23.