David Shrigley, Mayfair Tennis Ball Exchange, 2021. Wooden shelves, tennis balls, neon and badges.
Stephen Friedman Gallery:
25-28 Old Burlington St, London W1S 3AN
Until Saturday January 8 2022
David Shrigley Installation view of Mayfair Tennis Ball Exchange is Surrounded by a smattering of chic storefronts, a glowing green neon sign spells out the exhibition’s title, a cheeky nod to the irony of its location. Visitors are encouraged to fetch their own tennis ball and bring it in to exchange for a new one.
With each new ball comes a new anecdote – some shown no mercy and shredded by canine teeth, some scrawled on in marker with phrases like “Love Your Mother,” “Give Me Purpose,” and one of our personal favourites, “I Don’t Even Play Tennis.” One even sports a pair of eyes and its own COVID-19 face mask. The result is a continual and ever-changing work-in-progress that lives on beyond the confines of the gallery walls through constant community curation.
Known for working with a wide range of materials throughout his career, perhaps most notably for his humorous drawings on paper, this is a departure for Shrigley and is his first exhibition that was fabricated by a team of collaborators. “I’m not a straight lines kind of guy, and there are a lot of straight lines in this installation,” he notes. With several kilometres of shelving lining every wall of Gallery 1 with a vivid wash of electric neon, the exhibition almost crosses the net into Op art. Unintentional Shrigley notes, but also a happy, Instagram-worthy accident. It’s interactive and highly conceptual. With minimalism, all too often quoted as the ultimate form of sophistication, Shrigley has made something make sense here.