Under god's hammer:

william Blake versus david Shrigley

16th September 2006 - 1 January 2007

Centenary Gallery 5

Finished in 1825, William Blake’s illustrations for the Book of Job were the last major completed series produced by the British visionary artist.  They chart the woeful struggles of Job, a mortal who found himself caught in a wager between God and the Devil. The wager centred upon Job's ability to maintain his faith when unfairness and cruelness were inflicted upon he and his family. God believed that Job would be able to defend it whilst the Devil thought that such interventions would make Job renounce his devotion.

As well as detailing Job’s unfolding story, these etchings, which are highlights of the State Art Collection, articulated Blake’s own faith in an anti-materialistic, personalized spiritual attitude to life on Earth and beyond.  In response to these seminal works, Scottish artist and illustrator David Shrigley created his own Book of Job especially for this exhibition. 

Shrigley is known internationally for his bleakly humorous take on issues pertinent to contemporary life, including faith, faithlessness, and the search for meaning in the small and big pictures.  Therefore in many ways, he is the perfect artist to examine the ongoing meaning of Blake’s spiritual vision. 

In contrast to Blake’s fastidiously detailed images, Shrigley’s technique is as personally idiosyncratic as handwriting. Sketchy, tentative and shaky, it is run through with a trembling anxiety that reflects his response to our late modern world.  Seen together for the first time in ‘Under God’s Hammer: William Blake versus David Shrigley’, Blake and Shrigley’s superficially very different, though thematically consonant images and explorations, offered a unique look at the machinations of faith and the power of artistic vision in relation to the worlds of 1825 and 2006. 

 

                         

William Blake,                                                                                 David Shrigley                         

The Book of Job (1825)                                                               'Untitled' (2006)

State Art Collection,                                                                       Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London

Art Gallery of Western Australia

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