Robert Gober, is one of the most powerful but puzzling artists to emerge in 1980s, he has produced sculptures and drawings that are spare, sad, eccentric and deeply moving – but moving in a way that can be maddeningly hard to explain. He takes a well know object and simply alters it so that it is still recognisable yet strange and jars with our expectations. I am particularly interested in the pieces he makes that are simpler with only one element being changed, here you can see the tilted playpen is exactly how it would have been manufactured and the only thing ‘wrong’ with it is the tilt.
Robert Gober, Tilted Playpen, 1987, wood and enamel paint, 22½ x 45 x 45 inches.
Gober really considers the work in relation to the gallery space, and how a space could contain and project feeling through its contents, through the emotional relation of one thing to another. The gallery became a spatial analogue to the sculptures and their poetic transformation of the ordinary.
There is the temptation with Gober to get caught up in the meaning and interpretation of his work as a dream tableaux that will provide some insight into the artists psychology. But just with a lot of art and things you are unable to pin down the work with a single explanation.
Robert Gober, Untitled, 1988, wood, steel, enamel paint, 30 x 32 x 59 inches. Saatchi Collection, London
Gober said ‘I always try to get people to focus less, or at least not first, on finding ‘meaning’ or a ‘theme’ in the work, but to focus on what it is exactly, what it is physically made of and how it is made. A lot of times metaphors are almost embedded in the medium’
I think this is important within my work, there is the pressure to give your work this deep and worthy meaning but often this is lost in translation, the simpler associations and symbols work better at least as a way into the work. By working with everyday recognisable objects our previous associations to the objects can not be ignored and inform the way the work is interoperated. Its important that I use these pre determined opinions and alter them slightly, just enough for people to give a double take.
This has got me playing with the idea of objects doing the unexpected, going against their functions or properties.