A lunch convo with “DJ Shrig” aka artist David Shrigley
David Shrigley is currently installing his solo exhibition at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts that opens this Friday. The sign outside the museum is pretty funny just like David’s matter-of-fact art. In his well-known black ink writing the campaign on the front of the building reads something like, “Brain Activity, please come to” with a heart drawn on it and an arrow pointing towards the main entrance doors. I went through the loading dock of what felt like my arts alma mater (I booked some epic Opening Night Parties including Beautiful Losers, 2002 and Cosmic Wonder, 2006). As I wandered through security and said my hello’s to the same faces behind the scenes and followed the color coded tape on the ground into the galleries, most things were still packed up in crates. (Still totally psyched for the full unveiling at the opening). David and an assistant were kneading clay in the courtyard and I couldn’t really tell who was who, as I was trying to make a match of what I thought was a picture of him on line. Totally got it wrong. Had I sat on the other side of him, I would have noticed his sleeve that said, “D Shrig”. Here’s our matter-of-fact conversation…
bN: What’s up with this Brain Activity show? And what’s up with that shirt?
DS: It’s happened once before at the Hayward Gallery. This one’s got some new stuff, minus some other stuff. I made this Hulk drawing for a Stussy Marvel shirt.
bN: It should say DJ Shrig! So, this is a travelling show that happened before. What are you sculpting at the moment?
DS: This is a scultpure with letters and I’m making it out of cheaper material just in case it gets stolen out here.
bN: And it’s not for sale because it’s a museum show.
DS: No. Right, you’ve got it.
bN: What is it going to say?
DS: It says “LOOK AT THIS.”
bN: Why not, “Don’t Steal This.”
DS: It’s sort of like a self-reference, meta art meets gypsy curse meets conceptual Lawrence Weiner.
bN: UM, yeah. I know Lawrence.
DS: You do?
bN: I was in one of his films.
DS: Oh… (You’re not clueless).
bN: Let’s talk about your humor.
DS: Well, I can’t really self-analyze my own work or personality.
bN: Should I be asking these questions to your wife?
DS: You should!
bN: Where does the title of the show come from “Brain Activity”?
DS: I was in yoga class and we were doing meditation. The teacher was talking about brain activity. The curator at the Hayward Gallery was kinda after me for a name for the show. And I just said, “Yeah, what about ‘Brain Activity’?” And he said, “Yeah, alright”.
bN: So, I am not that familiar with your sculpture. When did that come about?
DS: Well, I’ve always made sculpture. I went to art school, so I thought I had to make objects to be an artist. And after art school, I stopped and started drawing. It was just more practical.
bN: With your one black pen?
DS: In my one room… in my shared apartment.
bN: Can we get nerdy since you DJ? (We’ll get back to that). Like what kind of pen do you use?
DS: Posca. It’s made by the Mitsubishi pencil company. It’s like a poster paint thing.
bN: Looking at your sculpture I was more drawn to your black sculptures. I think my mind was referencing your black ink drawings that are your signature style.
DS: The black ones are more abstract. They’re not idea-driven. In terms of a statement, they’re more ambiguous and mended in an intuitive way. They come out of a process.
bN: Are you saying your drawings are like that?
DS: Yes, those come out of a process.
bN: How many drawings do you make in a day?
DS: About 50.
DS: I work hard.
bN: You must have a million books!
DS: Over 30.
bN: Do you think you’re prolific?
DS: I like doing drawings. I would still do them if I had another job I could do.