Tim Etchells: contemporary artist extraordinaire

After stumbling across this artist last year, I looked further into his work and loved what I found. He is a modern artist, and someone who I feel many people, especially of my generation, could enjoy. 

Tim Etchells is an incredible English artist whose art is based around statements and the city. He is a very modern artist and I’m telling you now, look up his work and you will not be disappointed. His website can be found here. Personally I love everything about cities; the constant hustle and bustle, the people, the nightlife, the noise. His work appeals to the ‘work hard play harder’ generation. Etchell’s piece Surrender Control  (2001) is a series of text message giving instructions to the receiver. He is moving away from the more traditional paint and canvas art and creating art that is modern, refreshing and inviting.

His piece called Forever (2010). A neon sign reading “You Will Live Forever” glows in red. One the website there are four different images shown, one where the sign is on a wall, and the other three it is displayed in a shop window. Two of them show people drinking, while another shows what we assume to be a drunk girl with her boyfriend. To me, this piece represents the mentality of younger people, especially after a few drinks. One guy even seems to be confronting the camera, with a beer bottle in his hand. It portrays the feeling of being invincible and the desire to live life on the edge. 

He has one piece called Rules of the Game (1999), which “started as a text work setting out the rules for an imaginary drinking game in which a detailed system of triggers and forfeits ties drinks, undressing and sex acts to live reports of news events on TV”.  For me, this has the same meaning behind it as Forever does. A sense of amorality, fueled by alcohol.

Last year, I saw his work Will Be (2010) in The Glucksman Gallery, which is adjoined to my campus. It was part of the In Other Words exhibition. This neon sign consists of two parts. Both are made up of neon letters, one reads ‘The Future Will Be Confusing’ while the other is made up of the same letters, but displayed all over the place. It’s supposed to be viewed after the first, showing that the future will be puzzling and all over the place.

For me, nothing represent a city and its nightlife like neon lights. His website says this about his repeated use of this medium; “Through simple phrases spelt out in neon, Etchells create miniature narratives, moments of confusion, awkwardness, reflection and intimacy in public and gallery settings. Encountering these signs, in the streets of a city or in the space of a white cube gallery, the viewer becomes implicated in a situation that’s not fully revealed. As often in Etchells’ work in these neons the missing parts of the picture are as important as the elements that are present. Invoking a story, or projecting an idea out-of-context into the situation of the work invites us in, but into what exactly we can’t be sure.”

The above photo is my favourite piece by Etchells: Please Come Back (2008). It is a very personal message, available for anyone to see. I think this shows how our personal thoughts, that should probably only be said face-to-face are now put all over the internet and over the phone. People use Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites for private messages, that should be kept private. We now somehow see using texts and the internet as an acceptable method of revealing our innermost thoughts, feelings and desires.

Please don’t get the impression that all of Etchell’s pieces are to do with drinking or young people and their misbehaviour  those are just my favourite pieces. While Forever and Rules of the Game are set nearly twenty years apart, he still manages to depict the same young and care free attitude that is so commonly associated with young people.

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