David Shrigley’s Really Good unveiled as Fourth Plinth artwork
The newest artwork on London’s Fourth Plinth has been unveiled.
David Shrigley’s Really Good is a seven-metre high sculpture of a thumbs up cast in bronze.
What it actually represents is entirely open to the viewer, according to Mr Shrigley. This idea has been echoed by others, such as London deputy mayor for culture and creative industries Justine Simons.
Ms Simons told the Evening Standard: “For 17 years, the plinth has brought the art critic out in us all.”
She went on to say that making “world-class art” available in “the heart of London for free is what the Fourth Plinth is all about”. She added that she was certain that hundreds and thousands of people in London “will be captivated by Shrigley’s big ‘thumbs-up’ to the greatest city on the planet”.
This lack of a definitive meaning could have resulted in it being taken in a way that the artist did not intend. When it was suggested that the work might be seen as an affirmation of the recent Brexit vote, Mr Shrigley told The Guardian that it is “such an ambiguous thing which you can quite easily project your own meaning on to”.
Mr Shrigley added that it could even “endorse something I didn’t want it to endorse”.
Although he was disappointed with the result of the Brexit vote, he said that he had first thought of the idea four years ago, when the referendum had not yet been suggested.
Speaking at the event, the artist said that he hoped the work could make the world a better place. He said: “Obviously this is a ridiculous proposition, but I think it’s a good proposition.
“Artworks on their own are inanimate objects so they can’t make the world a better place. It is us, so I guess we have to ask ourselves how we can do this.”
At the unveiling, London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, said: “What this represents is so important. Optimism. Positivity. The best of us.
“Particularly post-Brexit, the three most important words I say are ‘London is open’ and this shows Londoners, visitors to London, tourists, EU citizens, immigrants that London is open.”
He said that the “positivity and humour” seen in Really Good “truly encapsulated the spirit of London”.
Mr Shrigley has backed Mr Khan’s #LondonIsOpen campaign by designing posters for the Underground tube system.
His work is the 11th sculpture to sit on the Fourth Plinth, which is located in Trafalgar Square, central London.
The Fourth Plinth was originally intended to support a statue of William IV but funds ran out before it could be completed. It now holds a rolling programme of works by various artists.
Mr Khan said of the project: “The changing artworks on Fourth Plinth continue to be a source of delight, discussion and debate and I am proud to be the mayor of a city that has such an energetic and vibrant cultural life.”
The newest work has replaced Gift Horse by German artist Hans Haacke.
In 2013, Mr Shrigley was nominated for the Turner Prize. He is known for his satirical drawings and animations, as well as paintings and sculptures that highlight the absurdity of modern life.