Angus Fairhurst (1966 – 2008)
Angus Fairhurst was born in Kent and studied at Goldsmiths College in London. Process plays a central role in Fairhurst’s works. He consistently adheres to structure as a means of subjugating intentionality to the action of making. In early ‘paintings’ he used the device of a grid to regulate the structure and even replaced the brush strokes and any interference of colour with a series of holes drilled into hardboard panels. In Ultramarine Attachment, plastic tags, used in the clothing industry to attach labels and in so doing standardise commodity, are incorporated to emphasise the grid system, partially obscuring and regulating the surface of the photographic image taken from a magazine. Alongside such work, the artist had been engaged for some years in producing a series of anthropomorphic drawings, often using the figure of a gorilla engaged in a narrative cycle. The gorilla’s appeal is that it can stand in for the human figure in a Darwinian sense, possessing near human form, but does away with the need for characterisation. When these essentially private drawings finally began to be shown, the gorilla image was brought to life and adopted by the artist as a form of alter ego. A series of actions in the video A Cheap and Ill-fitting Gorilla Suit showed the artist in a gorilla suit jumping up and down manically; the suit begins to disintegrate, shedding newspaper stuffing in the process, until the artist is revealed naked and all sense of illusion dispelled.
His work featured in numerous landmark shows including In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida with Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas, Tate Britain, London, 2004 and Brilliant! New Art from London, Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis, 1995. In 2008, a showing of new work at Sadie Coles Gallery was sadly to be his last as a living artist as shortly before the closing of the exhibition, Fairhurst tragically took his own life. A major retrospective exhibition of Fairhurst’s work has since been shown at Arnolfini, Bristol, 2009 and M Museum Leuven, Belgium in 2010.