Santa brought me this book for Christmas but I haven’t had time to read it until now.
Ceramic art has been running the risk of the Fine Art Desease for a long time. Too much confined life on gallery shelves, too much reclused and silent subtlety. It needs to be confronted with life, forced to partake in discussions about the world we live in. It needs to get a bit more insolent and dirty. Fortunately Grayson Perry is here to do just that.
Pottery with gaudy colors and sardonic or filthy messages in words or images. A lot of transgression – gender and other- and a lot of colorful show. There is always a risk shallow calculation and attention-seeking, but so far Grayson Perry goes far beyond that.
I only wish I had seen his major exhibition at the British Museum, The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman (oct 2011 to feb 2012). I would have loved it. I will definitely get the book about it as soon as a can.
This is how the exhibition came to be: He had travelled with his latest big show, called My Civilisation, and was still very occupied with its theme when he started exploring the possibilities of an even grander exhibition, at the British Museum.
He says: “The territory my civilisation occupied was my mind, which was laid out for visitors to see in my print Map of an Englishman, hung in the first room. I thought mischievously that all civilisations have a religion, so I made my teddy bear, Alan Measles, the leader of my childhood universe, a god”.
“It started as a joke but jokes, like dreams or sexual fantasies, are often messages from the unconscious and can echo dark and deep. I began to think about how my civilisation, complete with tatty little god, could be a framework within which to examine how we look at all cultures and religions. I enjoyed the thought that hovering behind my work is a unifying belief system, just as there is behind Egyptian or Ancient Greek art. It just happens that the person who thought up the belief system behind my work is still around – ie, me.”
Grayson Perry on a pilgrimage to Germany. The motorbike is transformed into a sort of Popemobil. Inside the glass shrine is Alan Measles, Grayson’s old teddy bear, and the Supreme Being, the deity of sorts, that his childhood world revolved around. Actually it’s Measles’ body double, elected out of a grand competition with Measles look-alike teddy bears that was arranged in connection to the exhibition the Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman. I guess the real Measles stayed at the British Museum. Displaying Measles on a pilgrimage tour makes me think of the Catholic processions of Saints through the streets. It also makes me think of lavishly painted indian trucks, and Hindu deities.
Preceding his exhibition the Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman he explored his inner universe in a series of maps and charts, such as Map of Nowhere.
Grayson Perry made a donation of six tapestries illustrating the British class system. They were made in connection to his TV series on taste shown in Britain.
The tapestries, called The Vanity of Small Differences, are a tale on William Hogarth’s series of paintings The Rake’s Progress. The tapestries depict a boy’s movement from working-class roots to fortune and, finally, shameful downfall and death as a damaged celebrity.
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