Fruitmarket Gallery

Cartoon-like playfulness arrives at the Fruitmarket gallery in Martin creed’s Exhibition ‘Down Over Up.’ Chairs, Tables, Cacti, Nails, boxes, are either piled up or lined up according to size, simultaneously ascending and descending up and down or along the ground. Paintings depict steps leading from bottom left to the top right corners of the canvas or ziggurat style peaking in the middle.

The up down theme is strengthened by a work specifically designed for the space that uses the gallery stairs as a synthesizer, each step triggering a note. As you walk up you ascend a musical scale and the opposite coming down. The playful cartoon sound of this piece infects the atmosphere in which all the other works are viewed, where normally with such minimal and cerebral works you expect to be dutifully sombre this is upbeat show with no heavy conceptual pretentions. I wonder if the work is ‘deceptively simple’ as it says in the accompanying leaflet or not deceptive at all.

For better or worse, depending on your outlook; conceptual art has never seemed more childlike, and the Lego stack (Work No. 792) pinpoints Creeds audacity and humour perfectly. Work No.590 consists of 36 black squares made with felt tip, each coloured with different marks, perhaps paying homage to the minimal flat colour planes of say Ad Reinhardt’s black paintings or Kasimir Malevich’s ‘Black Square of 1913, changing the material to felt tip adds a colouring-in ‘I can do that’ approach to art.

Perhaps Creed took Picasso too seriously when he said “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” But it looks like it’s working, as there is something joyful and playful in this exhibition that will appeal to most people. My favourite is work No. 141, a work on paper that reads ‘from one take one add one make none’. The simplicity defines Creeds artistic sensibility best, which is to start from zero in order to define the act of making something from nothing.