The vast space of BALTIC’s Level 4 gallery provides the venue for a solo exhibition by Brian Griffiths that plays with scale, size and the idea of measurement. Bill Murray: a story of distance, size and sincerity takes inspiration from the contrast between interior life and public image, by re-imagining the life of the eponymous Hollywood actor.
Griffiths explains his choice of subject: “Bill Murray is always authentic. He is consistently ‘Bill Murray’. His singularity breaks into irreducible ambiguities and contradictions – Bill the global superstar, the guy-next-door, the anti-brand brand, the irrepressible Lothario, the lovable gruff, the wise cracker, the emotionally brittle, the lost man, the free-wheeling guy, the uncle you-never-had, the dignified clown, the droll philosopher and the hopeful. This exhibition takes these and many other characteristics as an approach to making art.”
He has created architectural models of nine buildings, including a lavish LA beach house, a historic Scottish mansion and an ocean adventure dome, to imagine Murray’s activities and pastimes. A complex assemblage of these models, everyday objects and a documented performance by Bill Murray himself create a metaphysical adventure story and a fantasy caricature, complete with whisky minibar, grand piano and helicopter.
Contrasting these scaled-down models, Griffiths has also reproduced an image of Murray at the Cannes Film Festival as a giant 20 metre-long banner, which will appear on BALTIC’s north facade for the duration of the exhibition. Images from the Cannes photoshoot also become key material in the installation. Murray is dressed head-to-toe in clashing, checked clothes, the visual imagery is magnified and ramped up, size and scale gags accumulate as viewpoints and roles are acknowledged.
Throughout Griffiths’ practice, the object is utilised as a fictional tool, full of associative power and contemporary resonance. He uses found and made objects to consider our relationships with the material and social world; how we use objects to create meaning, to make and re-make ourselves. In his art, the fallible, the tired and the unwanted is valued and an absurd humour and pathos is always present
Bill Murray: a story of distance, size and sincerity by Brian Griffiths; BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead Quays, S Shore Rd, Gateshead NE8 3BA; until 28 February; www.balticmill.com
1. Bill Murray: a story of distance, size and sincerity by Brian Griffiths; BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.