Right there in black and white

Gabriel Orozco, Black Kites, 1997

For the Love of God, Damien Hirst’s diamond encrusted skull, got me thinking about another – and in my view much more interesting – human skull that has become contemporary art. Gabriel Orozco’s Black Kites is an extraordinary three-dimensional drawing on a distinctly less than conventional ground. This is a work I found both moving and compelling.

Black Kites (side view), 1997

There are all sorts of things that interest me about Black Kites. Not least there’s the questions it raises about the nature of drawing and sculpture. We expect drawings to be on a flat surface, but this is nothing more than a convention. Drawing and sculpture certainly aren’t mutually exclusive practices and the areas of crossover can be fascinating. Orozco is an artist who regularly defies expectation and though I really like this work, it’s one of many that intrigue, amuse and move me in different measure. (I’m not crazy about his paintings though.)

The work features a checkerboard pattern laboriously drawn onto the skull in graphite by Orozco while recovering from serious illness. There is undoubtedly something therapeutic about a task as absorbing as this but the skull brings us back to ideas of mortality rather than convalescence.

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