Mark Leckey brings the fiction of the virtual works to an oversized reality in three-dimensional form with Zoo Logic.
Mark Leckey, the Birkenhead Boy and one-time Turner Prize winner has brought a colossal, larger than life form of Felix the Cat to the upper level of the Walker Gallery. Although his academic life, the gateway to the Art World was a little chequered his early successes sprung from graduation, then propelled through the Turner Prize. What hoops were jumped, bridges crossed to get this feline form to the Walker Gallery?
Growing up on the Wirral from a working class background both Leckey’ parents worked for Littlewood in the days where brand name retails store’s dominated consumer culture. Finding little stimulation from a Beddington Comprehensive he left with one O-Level in Art, from this he decided to reject possibilities of training schemes and signed on. He became one of the ‘Casuals’ of the early eighties, sporting designer clothing and assembling in gangs of white male youths. His stepfather became disenchanted by Leckey’ lifestyle, penultimately giving him a long talk about direction in life before throwing him out to fend for himself. From this he travelled to London, finding no success in his attempt to sell Jelly Shoes from a bygone era at Portobello market he then began his art scholar direction, leading him to study in Newcastle.
His works for his degree showing felt very little to Leckey, producing a system of strip lights he considered to be a kind of imitation of art rather than work of genuine merit. However this was to be his first plummet to success, the work gaining a place at the sort after New Contemporaries Exhibition and his piece being exhibiting beside a work produced by none other than Damien Hirst. Now free from academia to take his creative practice in directions which he desired, Leckey began to create works around the theme of British Culture. His first major success being ‘Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore’ produced right at the end of the last decade of the twentieth century. In this, he assembles footage from the seventies and eighties underground music scene, accumulating in the rave culture which was to dominate the nineties. This brought him a cult following which an instant audience for his earlier piece around the theme of Felix the Cat. In 2008 he was to give us ‘Industrail Light and Magic’ developing his skills in combing archived footage to great success, ultimately being awarded the Turner Price from Tate Liverpool being staged there for the Capital of Culture celebrations. Nostalgia, the re-experiencing of feelings and the relationship between virtual and real life have dominated his work since the award.
Felix was taken to the Grundy Gallery in Blackpool before his journey to Liverpool. Again, he has been located in an exhibition space which looks to encase the gigantic from, his body being engrossed over an angle and static against a pillar. His eyes peering over the balcony to the lower floor, looking directly at the visitor wish engulf the staircases to explore the Walkers newest installation. Zoo Logic was originally commissioned by the Arts Council to celebrate its seventieth birthday and presents ‘Feel the Cat’ adjacent to the inflatable form. In this, we have a virtual space where original footage of Felix being broadcast mixed together in Leckey’ usual methods of cutting sound and visual motion together. His choices of three-dimensional form and re-cut footage present us with High and Low Art simultaneously, the ability to engage with a family audience combined with the potential for critic thoughts in regards to culture and engagement.
In his early fifties, Leckey has had a constantly developing and growing art career. Although visible in the creative market of the YBA generation he was never sought to become one of those entitled to the term. This has been due to the ever-expanding changes in his work through new media to physical forms, the YBA’s being almost brand like where their work is instantly recognised as being from a particular artist. Although similar themes of British Culture and general nostalgia works vary greatly in presentation. However, we have media installations which look to engage with the virtual world on a level which has not been explored so intensely to date, Leckey can only continue to grow as an artist and bring more to Liverpool, London, the UK and the international Art Market.
Zoo Logic continues on the 26th of February 2017.