Friday, 28 July 2017

Grayson Perry: The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever!

This is the first object I encountered on entering this exhibition. This charming tin-ware church-like building inhabited by two figures is very much like Mexican tin-ware/folk/votive objects based on biblical Adam and Eve figures - though in this case the first couple are replaced by figures of Perry himself, and wife Philippa. Once in the main exhibition you are confronted with a large print of a naked Perry in a pose reminiscent of Manet's Olympia.

The pots in the exhibition are as is usual for Perry, very well crafted, and are densely layered and textured with imagery referencing Perry and his transvestite alter-ego Claire. Other imagery is based on latter day politics/politicians and the extraordinary twists and turns of which continues to dominate the headlines worldwide currently. The pots also feature Perry's observations on social constructs such as class and gender.

The tapestries are typically bold, taking their inspiration from the history of traditional workers union banners, and low popular art forms such as wrestling. The Gay Black Cats tapestry also references Asafo Fante flags in its use of flat bold colours and stylised Union Jack in the top corner. There were other African influences in the appropriation of sculptural fetish figures, and Nigerian Benin-style bronzes.

I didn't go to Grayson Perry's 2011 show at the British Museum, so this exhibition was a good opportunity to see first-hand the eccentric motorbike that Perry travelled to Bavaria on, which contains a shrine to Alan Measles - his childhood teddy bear. The other bicycle in the exhibition below is equally eccentric in design though not as flamboyant.

I really liked this piece which again adopted religious imagery, and was like those roadside shrines encountered in Europe and South America. It contained the puppet-like devotional figures of Perry and Philippa and other memento-mori/religious objects. I loved the graphic shapes of the faux-naive folk imagery, and the rusted, punched-metal figures and shapes adorning the front and back of the 'shrine'.

Skateboard art venerating Kate Middleton as a Goddess, was similar to the Art Nouveau graphics of Alphonse Mucha. Long-pig is a ceramic piggy-bank at the entrance/exit to the show in which you are encouraged to deposit donations based on your status or sympathies, was designed to encourage donations to fund the Serpentine Gallery.

As I left the gallery a crowd had built, and were forced to queue before being allowed to enter. Proof of Grayson Perry's ever burgeoning popularity. This show may yet go on to be the Serpentine's if not the most popular art exhibition ever. When you leave the exhibition be sure to go around the building to see these balloons flying from the parapet, which bear more than a passing resemblance to Perry's beloved teddy Alan Measles.

Grayson Perry: The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever!
until 10th September
Serpentine Gallery
Kensington Gardens