Nick Hackworth

Gavin Turk, White Cube

Essays & Reviews Evening Standard

There was a time when Gavin Turk liked to pretend that he was famous. In the past he conflated his identity with that of icons such as Sid Vicious, Che Guevara and the French revolutionary Marat in a series of waxworks and performances.

He also produced works that trumpeted his own, and at that time, fictitious fame, including the English Heritage plaque that he exhibited at his Royal College of Art MA show to commemorate his own presence at the college. The works intelligently played on the theme of fame as a universal language, equally useful for selling revolution, records or art.

More recently, overt signs of human presence, be it of Turk himself or any of his famous friends, have fallen out of his work. He has taken to casting low-status objects — bulging black bin liners and empty, dirty sleeping bags, both on show here — in bronze, and painting them to achieve verisimilitude.

The work appears different but the subject has remained the same: the transformative power of belief. For it is in people’s belief in the idea of art that art’s value is to be found, a point made explicit by Turk’s turning of junk into bronze.

Something of a logical conclusion of his extended exploration of this theme is embodied in the only really new piece here, which forms the centrepiece of the exhibition. It is a maze of mirrored panels of differing reflectivity that occupies the whole of White Cube’s main gallery.

The title, The Golden Thread, refers to the Greek myth in which Theseus slays the Minotaur who lurks at the centre of a labyrinth, in order to save his beloved Ariadne.

Happily, you will find no monster here, unless you bring one with you, for there is nothing to be found at the heart, or even at the end of the maze. All you will see is other visitors wandering through and reflections of yourself. But really, as Turk suggests, that’s all there ever is.

Until 28 February. Information: 020 7930 5373