The upcoming exhibition at Gagosian Gallery, London does what it says on the tin … or spray can. Sprayed will showcase the manifold ways in which artists, across four generations, have used the impulsive and yet depersonalised and non-gestural medium of spray. Though perhaps most commonly associated with graffiti art, spray’s versatility has made it appealing to a wide variety of artists, beginning with early humans who blew pigment from their mouths to make stencils of their hands.
This show, however, takes Paul Klee as its starting point. Improvising with a blowpipe in 1929, he gave his painting, Seltsames Theater, a hazy background. Since then, the dawning of the industrial paint compressor and Edward Seymour’s invention of the aerosol spray paint can in 1949 have armed artists with powerful weapons of expression. And they’ve really let rip, from John Chamberlain with his lacquer-sprayed automobile sculptures of the mid-1950s and Jean-Michel Basquiat tagging New York City with existential aphorisms in the Swinging Sixties, to Tauba Auerbach with her creased canvases and Kim Gordon stencilling readymades in more recent years.
If for no other reason, it’s worth going along to see Andy Warhol’s alchemical Oxidation Paintings, in which he gave new meaning to the word spray by urinating on canvases primed with metallic paint.
by Thomas Allen
Sprayed will run from June 11 to August 1, 2015 at Gagosian Gallery, 6-24 Britannia Street, London WC1X 9JD
All images courtesy of Gagosian Gallery