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On the Death of Angus Fairhurst

Angus Fairhurst, An Effortless Patch 1, 1998
Deutsche Bank Collection

Angus Fairhurst has taken his own life at the young age of 41. On March 29, 2008, the British artist was found hanged in a remote forest area near Argyll, Scotland. Sir Nicholas Serota, director of Tate, said: "Angus Fairhurst was always deprecating about his own talent, but he made some of the most engaging, witty, and perceptive works of his generation and was an enormously influential friend of other British artists who came to prominence in the early nineties. We shall all miss him greatly."

Fairhurst, who was born in 1966 in Penbury, Kent, graduated from Goldsmiths College, London, in 1989. Among his fellow students there were Damien Hirst, Gary Hume, and Sarah Lucas, who together with Tracey Emin and Dinos and Jake Chapman became world famous as "Young British Artists."

Angus Fairhurst, An Effortless Patch 2, 1998
Deutsche Bank Collection

Already in 1988, Angus Fairhurst, together with Damien Hirst and 14 graduates of Goldsmiths College, pulled off the exhibition Freeze, which attracted the attention of the collector Charles Saatchi and heralded the boom in young British art. Even if he never became as famous as some of his friends, his work, marked by absurd humor, was highly influential on the scene.

Angus Fairhurst, An Effortless Patch 3, 1998
Deutsche Bank Collection

Fairhurst refused to pin himself to any set style. In his collages, sculptures, paintings, installations, and performances, he explored the influences of pop culture and the interplay between creation and destruction, abstraction and figurative representation.

For his 1991 sound work Gallery Connections, he connected staff telephone lines from London galleries to one another without their knowledge in order to demonstrate the self-referential nature of the art establishment. Among his best-known works is the series of large-scale bronze sculptures depicting gorillas in metaphorical situations, such as The Birth of Consistency (2004), which presents a gorilla as Narcissus gazing at himself in a puddle. Numerous of Fairhurst's works are part of the Deutsche Bank Collection, such as an untitled photo series from 1996 in which the artist portrayed himself in a sea of petals, as well collages that transformed motifs from ads and magazines into surreal scenes.

Angus Fairhurst, An Effortless Patch 4, 1998
Deutsche Bank Collection

Since the early '90s, Fairhurst took part in numerous international group exhibitions such as ‘Brilliant!’ New Art From London in 1995 at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, as well as at the Tate Britain in 2004, where he showed In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida with Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas. His last one-person show at the London gallery Sadie Coles HQ ended on March 29—the very day Angus Fairhurst was found dead.

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