Friday, 3 February 2012

Grayson Perry, fashion victor

I wasn't so sure about Grayson Perry when I went to see his show at the British Museum last week, but it was impossible not to warm to him. He communicates very directly. "Don't look too hard for meaning here," he greets us. I wrote it down, and then found more comments by him that resonated for me that I also noted, until I realised I couldn't possibly copy everything he said that I liked and be out of the museum by closing time. I was still resisting the urge to copy quotations by him from books in the gift shop on my way out.

Part of the reason for this is being from the same pre-Goldsmiths art school generation as him. Perry gave the title "Unpopular Culture" to an exhibition of postwar British works he selected from the Arts Council collection in 2008, which rings true. The first show I really went to at the Tate Gallery was "The Hard-Won Image" in 1984, which I remember as consisting of works by Kitaj and Auerbach and others that suggested slow grind in a variety of shades of brown. Art was much less fashionable then.

In fact, Perry's British Museum show ("The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman", extended to 26 February 2012) suggests his works come from much further back. They are interspersed with works from the museum's collection, as a tribute to the craftsmen and women who have made them, and often it is difficult to know which are his and which are 400 years old and from Ethiopia, or wherever. By the end I'd lost all faith in my judgement in knowing which were which. If that isn't a sign of his work being unfashionable I don't know what is. But to make works that chime so well with those from the British Museum? How much better could it get than that?

1 comment:

Don McNulty said...

I love the drawing, going to check out Grayson Perry.