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.


deirdre mcardle

but all rock stars raking in money do that in 5 star hotels ! it's the adrenaline, see.

Orlando Mathias

I saw the exhibition in Paris at the end of last year and found it a bit flat. Surprisingly I popped in to see it here and was fully engrossed, a much better experience and selection of work.


Many people think we are only bodies and nothing else. My opinion is that we are mind, body and spiritual beings.

deirdre mcardle

and better to say : tyranny over the visual.

Malcolm Leyland

Orozco has presented such beautiful and simple concepts which I found engaging, humorous, and very accessible. Very human! Unusual for modern art.


thank you so much for putting on this show - Orozco is one of my favourite artists and it was a fantastic opportunity to see the work together in this space - really well curated too. i'm very happy the Tate is giving prominence to this sort of work and would love to see more like this in future - there are some very interesting artists working in Mexico right now (putting the mainstream London "art scene" to shame, i'm afraid to say) and it would be great to see some more contemporary Mexican work at the Tate, as well as more of this type of art in general.

my one disappointment was that the artist's talk was booked out by the time i tried to get a place...

also interesting reading all the comments - I'll have to find out about the earlier Orozco too now - Mexican muralists must be a bit of a gap in my art historical knowledge!

deirdre mcardle

but is it art?


really really good show. Thought provoking, entertaining, and stimulating. I will be back

Richard Pardoe

I find much 'installation' art difficult. Some of it seems so complicated to get meaning from. Constituent parts thrust together seemingly randomly. Other work seems little more than a visual joke.

Orozco's work is different. It is simple, clear - full of metaphor and levels of meaning. Witty and poignant at the same time. Some of them worked simply visually such as the balleting bicycles others needed some explanation - I wondered around looking at the motor scooter photo's not quite getting it until I read the sign.

I really enjoyed this exhibition. It was in the same league for me as Hatoum and Whiteread.

The biggest accolade was that my son, a fine art student, who accompanied me was really excited by it but at the end he told me he was aggrieved that two or three of the ideas, which were so brilliant and so simple, have now been 'done'- narrowing the field of artistic possibility yet further for him!


I thought to the phrasal 'suspended rags' found on the Oxford Dictionary because it reminded me the same sensation as when walking along italian streets in town, You can almost see in every town the architecture change its aspects, language, by translating its self in something new. Even when the states are trying to communicate with us, those leaflet become in a while used or old, but the ink words sometimes with the rain get clearer and clear until they vanish completely leaving a very smooth light gray... like those.


I was frustrated that my itouch was not charged so I could not access all the video clips and podcasts...

The exhibition was very entertaining...I loved the humour!

Watching the other visitors reading their leaflets was amusing...especially the ones in the lift...thought it added to the art.

I will definitely be back with my itouch fully charged ;-)

Martin Savage

Sorry guys but thought the Orozco exhibition a bit lightweight. I don't expect or demand that someone's work or subject matter has to be heavy/full of importance etc., just that there wasn't too much going on behind the initial idea. The more disappointing thing that happens in shows like this is that the curator feels they have to work so hard to give 'meaning' or context to the work, if it doesn't engage the viewer on it's own merits. Galleries become proving grounds for curators who want to promote artists like Orozco or Creed or a host of other art practitioners, that have learnt the tricks of the trade but can't/don't go beyond that. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy some of it, but then I also enjoyed the the coffee on the sixth floor,reading the Sunday paper on the 76 bus, and any number of things that make life interesting. Simple stuff.

Richard Stokes

I agree with you Lorna. I loved the tyre detritus, the washing machine fluff lint, and of course the DS. The cycles were fun. Loved the oval billiard table - I am afraid I took a photo - bad boy.

The scooters were lovely - made me think of my times in Lima. A very good show TATE. I didn't enjoy the Susan Hiller nearly as much even though I have known of some of her work a long time.

The photography shows were good too - particularly moved by the photos of the wife deformed by the jealous husband scratching the negatives and also like the digitally modified building photos.

Rich Edwards

Verdict: X


What an immense disappointment there was little in this exhibition to move me . I quite enjoyed the snooker but the endless photos of the motorcycle did nothing for me . This was not worthy of a Tate space. A real waste of my time


Our body are made of particles which are constantly Replaced every six months or so as science tell us therefore We are not made of the matter we were made of six months Ago... The soul is a fairy tale! That leave us with a interesting question... What are we really?


I particolarly loved the mixed feelings I encounter Once I spontaneously burst in a laughter when I heard orozco comments on his scooter diary, then The obituary mixed sadness and joy in thinking How friends of a dead person can summarise someone life In a short frase. The picture of the dog which as Gabriel said remind me Of the "pieta'" is amazingly unreal! Orozco is always been one if my favourite artist Even though I don't agreed with all his works . Thank you for giving me a chance view it first hand!


I had the same problem! I found it very annoying to pay to go see the exhibition only to find that I was missing out on what were probably key aspects of Orozco's works simply because the ipod audio guide was not functioning... what a shame.

eryka isaak

I only had 15 minutes to look round the exhibition, I shall definitely go back. The advantages of being a member! I was moved, surprised and elated by his works. Particularly the heart piece, and the lift. Simple. Interesting. It's unfortunate that I am unable to look past the skull, I may be able to reconsider it on my next trip there. Beautiful paintings and incredible photography. He moves seamlessly through different media. It's inspiring.

manjit bedi

I quite liked most of the show. I think the photographs are probably my favourite part of the exhibition. I will say some of the rooms did not really captivate me but I suppose they had prominence in completeness for representing Gabriel Orozco's work.

Geoffrey Sumner

Saw it yesterday. Only took ten minutes ! And that was mainly reading the text. Nothing that made you want to stop and stare - apart from Black Kites and Samurai Tree maybe. But that's conceptual art for you, I suppose ? Why don't the Tate just email us a short video each time - save trudging all the way to Bankside ? Curator tries to do the usual job of covering up the banalities: describes `Lintels' as "meditation on the precariousness of human life"; it's no meditation - it's just a reference ! Curator also thinks we'll believe anything: "the logic of the accident", "the ephemeral poetry of the physical world". etc Thought Julia was right too: Orozco sounds like a fun guy to get to know, but you don't need to go and see his stuff in a gallery.


I was so looking forward to going to Tate Modern again during my visit in April. Picasso's exhibition in Liverpool and Gaugain in T Modern, if you can choose to ignore the crowds, were so inspiring. Orozco does not seem to ignite the engine with the same persuasion. Conceptual art seems to have gotten tired in the Tate this time.... Good there are other good galleries in London.

Martyn Goddard

Very interesting exhibition by a relevant working artist. The variety of works including the excellent 'La DS' which display's contemporary artists have the ability to produce stimulating works that respect the intelligence of the viewer! Great show! MG

gillie leach

absolutely loved it! knew nothing about him,but fell in love with him. a man with a lot of time to spare (e.g the finger/ruler stuff, the japanese fone book)loved the motor scooter romance so nutty but endearing.the beauty of the breath on a piano,envious of the wonderful currency notes with lovely stuff on in perfect colours - why didn't i think of that. A great day out, uplifting and you have a laugh too!


What I loved most were the smiles on visitors' faces! Everyone seemed to find pleasure in this exhibition. Hard to choose a favourite piece - the ruler/finger scrolls maybe?

Becky Alexander

Listening to the artist on my phone and reading the tate mag vastly improved my interest and understanding of this exhibit. I think this means the work does not always interest on it's own - a bad thing? But good that these resources were avail

David Michael H...

Mildy amusing; that's about it. But these "artists" take themselves too seriously when all they are is entertainers.....dont give up the day job Gabbie

Julia P

I thought it is probably just me, but to be honest, I did not enjoy the exhibition or, to be precise, i did not experience the elated feeling which i usually have after visiting the exhibitions at Tate and the urge to go and see them again. Some pieces are original, however overall it is not memorable. My three year old loved the cut up car and the billiard table was a unique piece, which attracted a lot of attention from the visitors. Not sure if the open shoe box was an exhibit at all, or just left by the staff for their amusement in the middle of the gallery. I hope i did not offend anyone.

Kevin McKeon

Congratulations to the curator and artist for an inspiring and extraordinary exhibition. I went with a non-artist (!) and the two of us talk about, debated and enjoyed the work all the way through the exhibition. I love Orozco's work, it's simplicity to me is it's power and is the perfect argument for why art and artists are are very useful. Using nothing very special as a starting point he makes us stop and look again at the world we live in and experience it slightly differently. He sees in what is available for all of us to see something new and pleasing. It is that engagement with his everyday world that I find so enjoyable, joy is a good word - it felt full of joy. I think it's important that The Tate are bringing contemporary artists of Orozco's calibre to a broader audience - if the Tate doesn't who will? For me it was the best show at the Tate since Eva Hesse to which it has a similar sensibility to I think.


My favourite works were the chequered skull, La DS and the Obituaries.

I thought the Obituaries in particular were quite moving. I like things that remind us of our mortality. While removing name and age references depersonalised the subjects - you still felt affinity and compassion.


Hi Jessica, I think you can be overall proud of this exhibition. His work is fascinating and cleverly executed. I like his witty humour and as an artist I found the exhibition very inspiring. However, if you wish me to leave a genuinely honest comment I felt as if the exhibition was not quite complete, as if the journey through his work was a bit too short and at times fragmented (in time and space). Loved most of the fragments of his work though :-) If you wish me to expand on this please feel free to email me otherwise once again thanks for the fascinating exhibition you put together and please do keep me updated with your future curatorial endeavours.

Richard Burge

A lot of this exhibition made me laugh out loud, then I'd enter a new room and become immediately subdued - the phone book pasted like some ancient religious text, but on closer look being overbearingly human; there are so many of us, scrolling endlessly and innumerably into the future until... I almost rang one of the numbers at random, just to make a connection on an individual plane! The obits also reflect our current world - TV stars in larger font than someone who pioneered more efficient land use in developing countries. So much was thoughtful, other parts frustratingly banal (do we need any more takes on the carpe diem device of the skull?. But then there's perhaps something to be said for that balance

Paul Laver

Really enjiyed the exhibition...bombarded by simple, clever and disparate ideas. Brought out a number of wry smiles and felt beatufil contemplation of everyday life without being angst ridden or too worthy. Not earth shattering or ground breaking but for me that was the point

Thanks enjoyed it

Gill B

As a bit of an art novice, I arrived at the exhibition with an open mind. Some things left me cold, such as the scooter pictures, the skull, (strangely enough as it is on all the literature about the exhibition).

However, rather to my surprise, I found some things very moving. For instance, the room with the lint 'rags' in it. As I wandered around under these 'bits of rubbish', they almost glowed with light and life, translucent and ghostly. Why was I moved? Ihave no idea!

I LOVED the photo "My hands are my heart" and would have liked to be able to buy a copy larger than postcard size (Why does the shop have so little to sell connected to the exhibition?)

Thank you for an interesting exhibition.

Lorna MacGregor

I was delighted by the Orozco exhibition. His photography was intimate and perceptive, like seeing parts of one's own life that someone else has captured. In every room I was amused by the originality, as well as often moved by its significance; no-where more so than the dust panels - the resonance of 9/11 and I recognise my own life in them when I remove mine from tumble dryers! I once owned a DS Citroen exactly like the exhibit, and was delighted to see it again. I always loved mine as a work of art - the most beautiful car, and owned by people. The black kites - so much better than 'for the love of god' by Hirst, which is obscene. The two scooters meeting all over the city was delightful, beautiful, and again so relevant to real life - if any of us were to park a vehicle next to an identical one we would be affected by that 'match making' ie amused. Orozco's work is witty, stylish and immediate. For me he achieved his goal of leaving me changing my perceptions yet again, about my own encounters with the world, and about what is art. Telephone directory, obituaries, Bravo - more please.


Gabriel Orozco is like his ball of plasticine, Yielding Stone 1992, rolling along, always on the move, always picking up new ideas, things from the streets, imprints, objects, impressions. He installs whatever he thinks is interesting, often distorting them to remove their utility, change their function, so that they engage more closely with the viewer as a work of art, a receptacle for meaning. Orozco loves to play, like a child. In a five star hotel in India, he was given three rolls of toilet paper, so he fixed them to the arms of the fan in his room, so that the paper streamed out with the rotation like pennants, and he and his wife danced to it, Ventilator 1997. There is something touching and personal in Oroczo's work, he is not afraid of exposing his vulnerability nd in that he touches all of us.

Patricia Ash

I expected to be more impressed by this exhibition. I liked the Samurai Tree and related works. Anyone could photos scooters - I understand that this is one of Gabriel Orozco's intention that we should all realise we can be creative but nonetheless these photos. the lift, the tyres left me and the family absolutely cold. I enjoyed the obits, the interesting photo of the hands/heart, the watermelons/catfood tins, the skull, the DS. The washer filters had a forlorn message of 9/11. It was good to be back at Tate Modern again but overall the exhibition was a disappointment and I would question if it all constitutes art. I realsied later in the exhibition that the shoebox represents what one hoards as memories (?) but a bit obvious and trite and waste of time in the middle of the hall?

Clare Harding

Some of the show was excellent. Indeed sometimes beautiful, sometimes funny, sometimes thought provoking.The whirling bog rolls had quite an effect upon any children seeing the exhibition - making me quite envious of them... Sometimes it was annoying. I do hope he didn't get any money for his empty shoebox, no matter how clever he thought the idea. The worst bit, though was the mystifying parts, eg the first room. Most rooms had some words on the wall which helped understand or enjoy the art. Where these words were missing made that section not register properly. And I couldn't make the booklet work for me either.


Great to see G.O. at the tate. The first room was an interesting start - thought i was familiar with his work but hadnt seen these before, and liked being slowed up. But wish there had been more info on these works - a curious omission! also i had hoped to see more pieces not shown in london before - i suspect his entire ICA show from the nineties was included... his photographs are just as inspiring and beautiful as i remember them.....

Mauricio Saenz

Estoy de acuerdo contigo Tavo. Creo que Gabriel Orozco es un artista sobrevalorado que se ha valido de producir obra controvertida y que llama la atención para hacerse de la fama que ahora tiene. Es un artista que sabe enamorar con su discurso.

Antonello Irace

The Orozco's Exhibition was amazing, However the one I have seen in Paris few months ago at the George Pompidou museum was richer in terms of number of installations and artworks displayed Some works were the same... Still the Tate did a great job. he is a great artist

Ted Monks

I enjoyed Orozco'way of taking everyday items and showing them in new ways, and of developing a simple idea in his own sometimes teasing way, such as the scooter photos printed in reverse. Why that way round? The paintings of patterns of circles and semicircles were perhaps my favourite works.


Really enjoyed the exhibtion. The car is so well done and beautiful to look at. Loved the Atrmist series of paintings. Seeing spheres that are not even there and the colour coding used. Ventilator is funny and very very simple. Almost took someones head off with the Carambole, sorry!!! Enjoyed the scooter photos. Thought some of the cut up currency was very well done and thought some of the photos were excellent. The skull was excellent. There was some stuff some that I did not think much off but it was a new artist to me and I thought a lot of exhibition was excelent. Another good afternoon at the Tate

Penny Chalton

Well worth a visit! Orozco's work stimulates a range of emotions and you will find something for all the family.

The photographs of the scooters were a brilliant demonstration of the search for one's match in life - a metaphor for love. What a great idea!

The car is fabulous!


It's a rare show that makes your cheeks ache from smiling. Orozco's work is humourous, quirky, lateral, present and lightly existential.

I particularly loved playing on the pocketless billiard table.

And reading the obituary sub-heading banners by the chequered skull.

And the shredded Mexican tyres arranged like a mad floatilla of Thames boats pulled out of the water and into the room.

And the Lintels. Just a beautiful expression of what it is to be an individual and also part of a community.

Actually, it's all just absolutely joyful. Seriously a totally fab show.

Mark Vaughan

Seeing Orozco's work for the first time was inspiring and uplifting! The obit headlines from NYT were extraordinary - what will my headline be when I'm gone? I was intrigued to know the font he chose...? The hanging bum-fluff from the washing machines made me smile - I even gently blew on one and was told, in the nicest possible way, not to play! The fluff looks just like the fluff in most mens' tummy buttons (why is it only men?). On the billiard table, I realised it was a Zen approach that was needed to make the white hit the swinging red...fabulous. What an original artist! A joy.

Nicholas Middleton

When my inbox marked the Tate feedback form as spam, I clicked 'show content', which is exactly how I feel about the Orozco exhibition.


Loved this show. It made me smile. Enjoyed the symmetry and circles. Successfully hit the red ball! And had fun going round the bikes with one of the curators deciding which one was Orozco's in all the photographs. Can't pick a highlight because I liked it all and will go back.


Yes the DS made me smile as I also had a DS-in itself the cut down DS was a terrific piece of welding skill!So I had fun at the show but was still by the end trying to wrestle with the usual question: 'is it art?' I have grandchildren and I want to take them -they will love it, but I'll find it difficult to tell them they are at an art exhibition in the same terms that the rest of the Tate is-even the Beuys.


Almost missed it...forgot I was a Tate member.

Star of the show was the Citeoen DS single seater: an iconic version of one of the most venerated car designs of the 20th C . On a similar theme the tyre debris was both visually and sensory stimulating.

Overall a great exhibition with something for art lovers, petrols heads and laundry fetishists alike. Well done to all involved.