Tate curator Jessica Morgan and artist Gabriel Orozco at Tate Modern
Tate curator Jessica Morgan and artist Gabriel Orozco in the artist's exhibition at Tate Modern

No matter how long you work on an exhibition there is always an element of surprise. On this occasion I was not expecting to experience the co-existence of Orozco’s humour with a reflection on mortality.

Gabriel Orozco Lintels
Poignant remnants - from the washing machine. An installation view of Gabriel Orozco's Lintels.

Both aspects of his work have equal presence in the exhibition: a room with the billiard table and many of his photographs suggests a mood of frivolity and pleasure in the small moments of life, while the installation of Lintels, literally sheets of lint removed from clothes drying machines in New York and hung like washing along lines across the gallery, is a poignant and evocative reminder of the dust and detritus that is life.

Gabriel Orozco Black Kites
Looking death in the eye. Installation of Gabriel Orozco's skull Black Kites with Obituaries in the background.

The room containing Black Kites perhaps summarises this best: the skull on which Orozco laboriously worked in graphite (literally looking death in the eye) is paired with his recent series ‘Obituaries’ for which he gathered headlines from the New York Times obituaries. Taken out of context, the one-liners that summarise a person’s life often make for hilarious reading, such as: ‘Burlesque Star Famous for her Bubblebaths’ or ‘Philosopher, Author, Friend of Popes’, and ‘Sensational Human Cannonball’. Let me know what you think of the show.



I would really recommend you this one, 'cargirlcs', I went yesterday and I really loved it. Wasn't crowded at all, I do agree that crowds spoil the pleasure, as you can't disconnect and enjoy art. But I don't think you'll have this problem with Orozco, is not as 'mainstream' as Gauguin. I'd go try to avoid peak hours maybe or weekend evenings, cuz Tate in general is usually crowded then.

Sooyeon Park

Liked the idea that the artist has presented: ephemeral nature of material, vanishing utility from found-objet, etc... It was also intresting to see how the artist honoured ordinary, everyday life.

deirdre mcardle

are you stoned Hannah?

John Lawrence

I enjoyed the range of work. Orozco perhaps has an ability to begin, as it were, from scratch each time; to go in a new direction and in a new medium. Like Patricia Buck, he made me laugh (a plus)and I thought the pencil 'finger' drawings, beautiful and natural. I wanted to peel one from the wall to take home!


My visit got interrupted by the fire alarm. No sign of staff. Lots of us confused about what to do and whether or not it was a fire alarm or someone had tried to nick something. Staff were either very poorly trained for this emergency or not sticking to their training. How the two people in wheelchairs I had seen earlier coped, I do not know.

Usually, I enjoy my visits to Tate Modern. To date, the Orozco is my least favourite exhibition. The evacuation of the building provoked a lot more thought than the exhibition. It certainly told me a lot more about 9/11 than the drier fluff on lines.


am busy tying toilet rolls to all our overhead fans....magic..

deirdre mcardle

well gorogoro most people can still not afford the luxury of ignoring their body,tried in the '70's of course but led to a lot of headaches ! We are stuck in our duality and hopefully solidarity. Those who 'sink' are mostly pushed.

Caroline Norman

Went round the Orozco exhibition with a fellow Lecturers from Suffolk and all of us were spellbound by it. I especially loved the space the pieces were allowed so that you could really consider their relationship within the environment. The variety and humour was uplifting. The painstaking repetitive approach (eg NY phone book)was impressive. The photos were thought provoking and fabulous.The clay work tactile and inspiring. Loved it all great exhibition.

Oliver Mackwood

The connection with the body and the tactile medium in "my hands are my heart" synthesise beautifully to create something naturally evocative. With a cheeky smile to experiential humour, his work celebrates life and the moments that it creates. This is a charming artist who is not only in his element, but who understands it as well.

Michael Thorn

Visited the exhibition yesterday in between the Saatchi and the Hayward. Wish there had been more evidence of Orozco's wit and playfulness in those two shows.

Highly recommended. Loved the Citroen :)


I found myself oddly disappointed by the Orozco show. A busy lecturer who used to be a painter, I try to reserve one or two days a year when I can go to the Tate and experience the pleasure of looking at and engaging with contemporary art. However, s I wondered through the show I found myself feeling increasingly empty - conceptually some of the ideas made me chuckle, artistically, his mind and graphics are competent, but overall it completely failed to answer the 'so what' question which kept returning to my mind. Slightly depressed by this I went off to the National Gallery for some bourgois self-indulgence looking at Titian's. Beginning to wonder if I should keep my Tate membership.

Olympia Polymeni

I am a fun of Orozco. I liked that the show was not burden with much theory and we could enjoy the pieces. I especially loved the little oils on paper and the sculptures on clay. Very inspiring. I would like to see more stuff though...

deirdre mcardle

aaaahhh Titian! But of course people still believed in God and so had Christian imagery as well as the feed from classicism,no photography - so commissions for likeness; perspective and chiaroscuro ,the proscenium arch-sense of 'picture' all these methodologies ; the lustre and lightness of touch from oil paint applied as it should be,in layers with varnish up to the surface from dark to light...etc happy happy days.And yet...etc... once they split the atom,man !....and now we're up to what? 11 dimensions ? ,black holes,world in crisis some challenge eh.

peter abbott

great exhibition....the small folded paper oils are very attractive and clever in the way they are produced.......bikes use the as found triangulated frames in a brilliant piece of fun. the exhibiton shows an artist without tunnel vision and a broad sence of humour...i liked it and will be coming back for a longer look

Barry Hawkes

I thought the Orozco exhibition was awful. The labelling was pitiful and in many cases there was no information or explanation of what the artist was trying to achieve. The guide was equally awful. There was no indication of what room we were in or indeed what was in each room. An audio guide would have been useful.

Madeline Wright

For me the best part of the exposition was the circles in red,black and gold - very good. I liked the tyres but too many to appreciate the fine work he had done on some. Although I liked the over feel of the expo, I agree with a few other in that some of the work was similar to what we all do as students of the art as we discover new things. But if this is his journey of art who are we to comment. One small request on the set up of the expo please put your labels in the same place bottom left of the work- its very erratic. This is what causes some of the congestion when the gallery is full. Otherwise keep on with the good work.

peter abbott

I agree the folded guide was not a user friendly piece of paper, I thought that it seemed like a cost saving exercise the useual little booklets were far more useful, also some of the labling was a bit difficult to find first time......the room plans were clear on the info sheet..... no problem there........

Kay T

For me the most depressing exhibition I have ever visited at the Tate. The shoe box, the tyres, the washing line rags, the bikes, even the skull etc - felt like sad copies of something I have seen before but previously enjoyed. I didn't spend long in there and I may go back to have another view to try and see what I might have missed.

Mark Stroud

The photos and 'snooker' table stay with me because of the interaction each allowed, for different reasons. The snooker obvious, more so because the cord snapped with us as many others (it was my daughter, honest:), the photos because there was a wonderful familiarity with the gaze of the lens to many people I imagine, beauty in ordinary things that you find perhaps at certain times when you stay for longer with things in thought, and notice symmetry in shapes and objects that somehow can give you balance in your thoughts and feelings, if only momentary, and perhaps it was the momentary that I really liked. Thank you.

julian perry

I could only connect with 2 of the exhibits: the bicycle montage and the space contained clay hand moulding: both of which stopped me for just a few seconds. As for the rest - concept/constructs that melt in the mouth and are unlikely to revisit/ambush me ever again. It's the same for the readymades. You put 'art' on your walls and walk past it not noticing it for maybe decades. You put photos of family up and sense them every time you pass them. So you take it apart - all the art in history is dormant. i would be more impressed by 'art' that nudges me daily to view it/feel it/act on it.


I was ignorant to Gabriel Orozco's work before coming to this exhibition and had little idea what to expect.

I was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed it. It's been a while since I laughed out loud at an exhibition (as I did on more than one occasion in this - the Carambole with Pendulum and Obit Series). We enjoyed the tone of the exhibition and the range of media he works in.

For me, one of the advantages of my Tate membership is the opportunity it brings me to explore things which may have otherwise passed me by. This was a classic example and I hope to visit again before the exhibition closes.

julian perry

Does anyone remember the sherbet flying saucers from the 50s/60s/70s? Melt in the mouth and a big fizz - then gone with just no memory. Is this exhib similar? There is nothing to influence your life, your ways of seeing etc. Visual jokes, nothing more. Does this exhib affect your trajectory through life?

julian perry

Part of the construct is to nudge the viewer to see and think in a different way. This exhib doesnt do that for me - does anyone attempt this without and not take this work into ones soul?


Everything in this show is literally a heap of junk and the ideas behind it are totally worthless. It troubles me that the Tate (and other public institutions) give respectability to this rubbish. Do they think we're such fools that simply because they choose to show it within their once hallowed walls, we will be duped into thinking that it is worth any attention whatsoever. Th purpose of this show is simply to add value to the private collections of multi-millionaires who must be very concerned about the effects of the global economic collapse, particularly in countries such as Greece.


Just wanted to comment that I really appreciated the fact that I could log onto the online audio guide on my phone at no extra cost! A really great idea, which I hope Tate will do more often.


I wish that I could see the Tate show although I saw the one a few years ago at the Serpentine and last year at MoMA. I love Gabriel Orozco's work. I find it particularly poignant in its simplicity. Sometimes it is so brief and light, sometimes funny, sometimes sad.

BTW, isn't Gabriel the grandson of Jose Clemente?

eva maria

I love his works!!


Lets say THE OTHER OROZCO, Not the original one, I like Gabriel Orozco's work because is enough good, but is not about Mexico and we know it as Mexicans, is more about a Mexican Artist traveling who conquer Fame by beeing there at the spot in the right moment at the right time.


Human life is more related to light than dust, we live in the body but we are not the boby.


I went to this exhibition only because I happened to be in the Tate and therefor had no expectations; Orozco's work was new to me as well.

I had mixed reactions. Some of it I found very banal e.g. the circles, the billiard table, the chess, the Obits and the bicycles. Other peces really caught me unawares and I have been thinking about them ever since...in particular the tyres...such an element of peace and beauty initially, swiftly followed by screeching, death and all the horrors of road accidents, then forgotten as peace descends again. I also loved the photographs, the DS, the Tokyo timetable, the bog roll and the laundry fluff. I was surprised by my reactions as I find much installation art leaves me cold. Some of Orozco's work made me think and touched me personally.

deirdre mcardle

"dust and detrius that is life" ? ! only under the Tories babe.


loving the grey color palette!

Ernesto Priego

You keep referring on Twitter and here to "the Orozco exhibition".

In Mexican art, for better or worse, the name "Orozco" on its own, for historical reasons, means Jose Clemente Orozco, the muralist, one of Mexico's most famous contemporary artists (there with Kahlo and Rivera as you know).

Though Gabriel Orozco is of course one of Mexico's best-known artists as well, and though the ellipsis is literally accurate, merely referring to him by his last name (especially in a context in which one cannot assume general awareness of *that other* Orozco) can produce a certain smell of artistic ignorance by omission.

Other than that, it's great that after the Damian Ortega at the Barbican Curve, Tate Modern is hosting this Gabriel Orozco's exhibit. It's a brilliant way to spread the word that today's Mexico is not all about the guns and the drugs.

Kavya Hughes

I loved this exhibition, which I found much better than expected from reviews, pictures in the papers and early comments above. I think there is a lot to be said for getting us to look anew at 'ordinary 'life - there is no such thing - and this is a wonderful demonstration of that. He demonstrates in various ways too, from what I found horrible (the squashed clay, which looked to me like the inside of an eviscerated bird) and the chequered skull, which seemed disrespectful to the dead - but then he is Mexican! - to the funny billiard table, where I watched a lot of people play, from young to very old indeed. As the comments above demonstrate, these pieces evoke very different reactions and associations in each of us - Yippee.

I found the cut-up phone books very beautiful and the obituaries both hilarious and terrifying - how would I like to be summed up in 5 words? Very few of the items had nothing interesting (to me) to say; most more than made up for these.

A pity he isn't dignified by both his names, so apparently removing an illustrious predecessor in Mexico from memory or importance, rather like calling Dante Gabriel Rossetti solely by his first or indeed middle name.

Jennifer Jang

it reminds me of Lee Alexander McQueen's early work i love modern art and history. ^ã…¡^


we are not the body damned morons. and you ask why we sink...


loved it. funny. quirky. memorable doing what good art should do - making you think. an initial : what the? then smiling as you walk up to it; then standing to ponder. an exhibition to go to and go again

Mary Romer Gree...

Just to say, I love this new idea of you writing and talking so passionately and enthustically about the Orozco exhibition you are curating. I will definitely go to see it. I would agree though with the Mexican commentaters on this blog, that it is confusing to call him only by his surname, as they write, the other Orzco is also held in high esteem in Mexico, and of course is much better known.

deirdre mcardle

for clarification: what is happening IN THE PAINTING/SCULPTURE.

deirdre mcardle

and if the "viewing space" being "operated " for those attempting to view Gaugin had been as generous those individuals would have had more chance to look and see and think without the visual experience having to be negotiated via a morass of words.It's a form of greed to over appropriate meaning and only leads to a lack of confidence in the viewer,if you could overhear some of the sorry exchanges amongst artists about painting today one might realize we need freedom from the visual tyranny that has grown up .An artist's most important tool is observation,the viewers too.

Christine Roberts

I really enjoyed this exhibition. I went into it with a totally open mind knowing nothing about Orozco but I gained a sense of one artist's route through the world, observing, exploring, conceptualising and creating which encouraged me to look afresh at certain objects. I liked the diversity of media and skills.

Daniel Slater


Daniel Slater

Gabriel Orozco's working with the everyday, defining his own observations and operating a viewing space by which the viewer may review their own individual situation, was as expected, captivating. However, the exhibition, I felt lacked something of the finesse that Orozco's work certaiinly deserves and did it no justification.

Steve Mumford

This isn't a strong show in my view. I believe the artist's work has been stretched out to fill the exhibition space, & I don't believe he has a strong identifiable style of his own to be on show at Tate. I think some of his pieces are a bit 'studenty'!


I thought that this show was excellent. I haven't enjoyed something this much at the Tate for ages - the last show that I liked this much was the the Per Kirkby painting exhibition that is obviously very different.

I think that the playful nature works exceptionally well with the very strong visual impact of the work, it is wonderful that the pieces are interactive - however being english I did not know that you could walk into the elevator and frowned at my Dad when he did, until others followed suit and no shouting happened!

I also loved the photography it was great to see how these more quiet worked well with others. I picture it almost like an Orozco world where two people are sitting working out new rules for the knight chessboard game, others are trying to hit balls on string, maybe someone is buzzing around in the newly made one sitter citroen. But I think that the photographs bring everything together and made the onlooker think more about what they are seeing.

Wonderful show look forward to the next!

Jen Shepherd

Cats and Watermelons - the best. x


I find Orozco's work beautiful, I've been studying it in my third year of my degree. Having been to the exhibition I was overcome by the sense of a loss of the present that was communicated in his work. By capturing events which have passed, breath on a piano, tyres bursting, it became so evident to me that I'd missed them, which I found heartbreaking. Really interesting as seeing his work in isolation, I was never struck by that.

Rather then agreeing with the information in the guide about Extension of Reflection, 'Orozco's concern that his works remain active is a key to his photographs. These demand engagement in the moment because, as he puts it, 'the event is still happening.' I saw the works as ghosts, moments of perfection when something remarkable happens within the everyday that is no longer with us, no longer happening. This lack of present, for me, is reflected in the way we function on a daily basis, and therefore capture the 'ideas of monumentality and the symbolic within everyday life', that the introduction discusses.

I feel it's a credit to the exhibition that it allows for these readings which are not necessary what that artist intended. Although initially I was disappointed by the lack of audio guide (and unlike the rest of the world I do not own a smart phone) I think it allowed me to give myself the time to make my own connections with the work because the information I did have did not shut it off from shut interpretations.

I'd love to see more shows like this, less blockbuster, as it was beautiful.


this was a disappointing exhibition. not up to the tates usual high standards. it was just pictures/piles of rubbish to me. if an unknown artist produced this type of work they would be ignored.