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"Grayson Perry" Tag


Designing the Surface with Grayson Perry


Monday, March 13, 2017

 

 

After visiting the ‘Designing the Surface’ exhibition at the New Institute in Rotterdam I went to the Stedelijk museum in Amsterdam to visit their Design collection. In order to choose an artwork of interest and than relate it to one of the Acts of the book. I chose the work ‘’Floating world’’ of Grayson Perry.
I want to relate this artwork to the last Act (VI: Slim) I described: ‘’In which the future is superficial’’.

 

2001_1_017198e2f9d9539d98dc5cb98cdd103bccdbphoto-172

Grayson Perry, floating world.

 At the first sight this pot appears to be a cute ceramic pot that you could recognize from your grandparent’s home collection. Conventional in form, colour, and usage of glace. But if you come closer to the pot, you might be shocked by the images of car accidents, penises and dead people. It is extraordinary to explore this kind of images on a cute pot like this.

You can recognize a controversial aspect in the title of the pot called: ‘’Floating world’’ which refers to: Ukiyo-e. Ukiyo-e (literal translation: floating world) is a genre of woodblock print and painting technic originating from the Japanese art

tradition. In this genre the hedonistic lifestyle of the high-class from the 17th till the 19th century is pictured. The high class decorated their homes with these images of their high society lifestyle. Perry makes a link to this subject. The artist is referring to the original Ukiyo-e style in which artworks are functioning as decorative pieces. Perry’s work could been seen as traditional and decorative from a distance. You cannot see what is going on at the surface from a far distance. But if you get really close, you can see the provoking images. By then you see that you are not watching a conventional piece of decorative ceramics, but something that reacts on this. As a platform for protest.

The Ukiyo-e is showing the nice high class lifestyle, and this piece suddenly displays violence, pain, and sex. We have to know that we have to take a closer look to designed objects to understand its origins. If you don’t do this, you might risk that you give you grandma a ceramic pot full of penises for her 80th birthday. A fun anecdote to tell: My own grandmother was a very conservative woman. In the 60’s with the summer of love and all the hippies my father had long hair and my grandmother really disliked this. She disliked anything that had anything to do with hippies. But then one day, when she was in a more emphatic mood, she gave my father a tie-dyed t-shirt because she thought he would like it. But what she never knew, there was a text and an image pressed on the t-shirt, not easy to read though: ‘’save water: shower with a friend’’ and four feet wrestling.

Save-Water-Shower-with-a-Friend_art

 

 

Grayson Perry


Monday, October 28, 2013

From the big design collection of the Stedelijk museum, I could point out a few pieces which I like a lot. Still, by having the limitation of choosing just one, I had no trouble remembering this one big pot I’d seen on my way. Not that I especially like ceramics, (nor shiny pots I would say) but for some reason this specific one got all of my attention in a completely positive way.

Strangely familiar was the name. From Grayson Perry. I thought: never heard of it, but in fact it looks strangely familiar to me. These drawings on it were telling a lot, making sense.

IMG_66581

After this first innocent impression, the investigation process started. First of all, as I cannot deny, I googled it – images. An amazing work collection appeared. I was happy already with my selection. I found out very quickly that apart from ceramics Grayson Perry also makes tapestries. Also it was easy to understand he likes dressing up as a woman.

Research went on for long, and still I know nothing of him. He has his name on a few book covers, is active on discussions about art, culture, education… Made a 3-episodes documentary for channel 4 in which he introduces 6 tapestries and discusses the idea of taste held by the different social classes in the United Kingdom. It was very successful, and won the turner prize in 2013. In 2002, Stedelijk made a solo exhibition with Perry´s work.

I went through one of his books: Grayson Perry, portrait of the artist as a young girl, a biography written by Wendy Jones. I found a lot of interest on his childhood, full of fantasy. He tells about his parents and sister, how they got married and divorced thanks to the affair of his mother with the milkman. His father left the family, which he takes as the event with biggest impact on him and his life; his stepfather violence or his teddy bear, which he sees a bit as a God.
Later on he studied in London, had lot’s of fun and lived in squats.

Grayson Perry has an alter ego, Claire. She is the kind of woman who eats ready-made meals and can barely sew a button. He likes to dress up like a girl since seven. Nothing ever made him stop. But Perry says that he is not pretending to be a woman; he is just a man in a dress. He is married and with a daughter born in 1992.

One of the reasons that made me identify this much with his work is that he likes to make things that he finds beautiful. Not with a big idea behind it, just in a spontaneous way. I think as well that sometimes is nice just to enjoy art, with no interpretation or understanding.
Grayson Perry thinks it is sad that in contemporary art the craft work is getting a bit lost. Like as if the concept is all. On this I agree with him, if it is all about concept, than why is it art and not philosophy? This way most philosophers are doing great works of art every time they use an object to explain their idea. I like to look at an art piece, and together with the concept to see something personal of the artist, that he actually did himself. Perry finds it very interesting about Duchamp and his urinal and all, but that is quite old now. It was new to point at a random object and to say it is art, but not anymore. Also that the question is not about what art is, because we’ve seen already everything can be art. This way the question becomes ‘’what is the good art?’’. For him a good concept is not enough. He compares it with a film that has this great subject but not good visuals and sounds. It might make it a good film, but not a good work of art.

In the end I think the reason why he is so famous is that he provokes other artists and people in general, somehow in a conservative way; but very cleverly, it is hard to criticize or contradict. Also he always speaks his personal opinion, but at the same time he justifies it very well, as if he is praying to people for some new art religion of esthetics and craft work, easy and accessible. He is going back to the old way of looking at art, the beauty of shapes and colours, and the feeling it gives to people. Instead of giving confusion which is after explained with the concept. I see it as the difference of drawing and illustrating. Before works of art were like a drawing, which tells the story by itself. Now it became like illustration, of a concept which should most of the times be told together so that you get the complete picture. Then again it is all a matter of what each identifies with or to find a good balance.

He will give lectures about the state of art on the 21st century on Reith Lectures from BBC radio 4, October or November 2013. I give everyone the advise of taking a look at his work and the things he wrote and says. Enjoy!

I am telling Grayson Perry’s opinion based on this interviews:

Not all boys dream of being kings, not all girls dream of being queens


Sunday, May 26, 2013

 
The intimacy of Grayson Perry´s drawings and the DIY characteristic
of punk and queer movements

 

The first time I came across Grayson Perry´s work happened on the same week I had a discussion with my classmates regarding minorities and the quantity of women inside the art academies X how many of them do we actually see in contemporary art galleries and museums.
Not only for briefly getting to know his beautiful works, but I was mostly glad to hear he was a successful and Turner Prize winner artist who also happened to be a transvestite. He made it out there despite for his choice of appearance or behavior and above all: his body of work does speak about all of these matters in a very subjective and personal way.
I hadn´t thought or researched much more about Perry until I visited the Hand Made exhibition at the Boijmans van Beuningen museum in Rotterdam with the Foundation Year. For my surprise the centrepiece of the exhibition was The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman, by Grayson Perry.

The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman is a tomb in the shape of a ship, which has been cast in iron, a floating reliquary that is forever earthbound. This, he says, is the tomb of the unknown craftsman, dedicated to the many thousands of artists over the centuries whose work survives but whose names will never be known. The political and whimsical aspects of the work promptly awakened my curiosity and interest in his art, so I decided to start researching about him.

Perry is mainly known for his ceramic pottery and tapestry, where he combines classical forms with his drawings and sketches. The drawings have a strongly autobiographical aspect, often depicting himself as Claire, his feminine alter-ego, and his teddy bear, Alan Measles, as a representation of the father figure, always providing comfort and affection. Many of his works picture sexually explicit content and for that reason they have been raising harsh criticism among art critics. But Perry habitually portrays the life of the working class as well as inciting discussions about minorities, sexuality, class and race. He has said, “I like the whole iconography of pottery. It hasn’t got any big pretensions to being great public works of art, and no matter how brash a statement I make, on a pot it will always have certain humility… For me the shape has to be classical invisible: then you’ve got a base that people can understand”.

Looking closely to the drawings on the pottery and trying to understand what they wish to communicate I could not help but think that their guerrilla-like motto and storytelling elements reminded me of the punk zines and the DIY (do it yourself) aesthetic of the punk and queer movements. In my mind, the way Perry uses the form of traditional vases as a free base and platform for the materialization of his thoughts immediately related to the intimacy and freedom of speech of the hand made booklets.
The hand made zines played a very important role in the punk movement in the late 1970s. Through the making of a zine one could express his own or a group´s principles and spread the word while being able to escape from the control of the publishing companies and media. In my opinion the exceptionally underground aspect of it is what provided the freedom necessary for the makers to loosen up from any possible apprehension regarding public judgment in order to feel welcome to express their most genuine political thoughts. I can recognize this very same bravery and freedom of speech in Perry´s drawings.

For Perry art should be able to communicate to the public and not only to the high-class art related intellectual minority. He also reflects on crafts as a form of art and in an interview to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, he mentions that craft and art are greatly linked and that is actually one great thing about it. Craft by definition is something that can be taught to someone else, you can teach someone how to throw a pot and they can become as good at it as you. Whereas art is very much linked to an individual vision and it´s not necessarily something that can be taught. One can be derivative and take up someone elses vision but he won´t ever become that person.
Perry calls himself an artist and craftsman and he makes use of crafts as a solid and clear base for his art, a base that becomes a tool for the expression and carriage of his message.
Not surprised I discovered Perry was involved in the Chelmsford punk scene in the late 1970s, he lived in squatted houses and at some point shared a house with the pop singer and transvestite Boy George, who became an inspiration for him. He is also the father of Flo, a 21 years old girl, and the husband of the author and psychotherapist Philippa Perry.

Storytelling as a craft


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Grayson Perry is an English artist and his work is really broad. He makes vases, videos, documentaries, graphic novels and curator. He made Claire – his alter-ego – into an icon. Together with fashion students he designed incredible creations for Claire.

At the exhibition I saw this work: Strangely Familiar, which is a vase with pornographic images within the background images of the suburbs. Not something you immediately connect with pottery, that’s what makes it so interesting to look at. The vases itself tells a story, the vase serves as a stage, Although they have this fragile look they tell radical stories.

 

In England it produced strong reactions. Many critics didn’t take his work serious, it is primarily the form he choose that was shocking. Ceramics and decorations have a reverential status in England. Associated with good taste, educated public. What Grayson Perry tells us with his vases is the opposite of what we like to see as civilized or good taste. We would like to see ourselves as civilized people in Western society, but he shows us that we in essential aren’t civilized people at all.

Stedelijk catalogue

I really don’t understand that they make such a problem about the images on the vases. You have to see it in the context. I think it just makes it stronger. It seem they only focus on the vases, they threat it very narrow minded if you ask me.

 

(more…)

Grayson Perry


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

 


Grayson Perry, Floating World 2011 /front and back

 

At first sight Perry’s pots are old classic vases decorated with figures. They look attractive, full of colors, pictures, inscriptions and decorations. They deal with autobiographical themes and society critics, designed with irony and full of disturbing details. He likes to play with the combination of innocent, handmade decorative pots and these shocking images.
Perry’s work refers to several ceramic traditions, including Greek and Japanese pottery. He has said, “I like the whole iconography  of pottery: no matter how brash a statement I make, on a pot it will always have certain humility …” Most of them have a surface composed of varied techniques:  glazing, incision, embossing, and the use of photographic transfers which requires several firings. It has been said that these methods are not used for decorative effect but to give meaning. Perry challenges the idea, saying that pottery is merely decorative or utilitarian and cannot express ideas.

But the fact is that his vases don’t seem to be utilitarian. They are not made for receiving flower, they are made to softly and critically scream at society. We could put flowers in it but it will only soften more the ideas.  For me those vases are not made to receive flowers but for saying something in an “acceptable” way with just the touch of irony needed.

The item I choose is not so much an autobiographical work unlike most of his work. I read it like a bitter opinion of the world as it is now.

At first, I was attracted by this vase because I liked the contradiction well set between this ancient Greec vase and this very contemporary life stories depicted on it.

I came to look at it again half an hour later and I was not sure anymore, something was disturbing me a lot about this vase. Not because of violence and sexual scene like in the vase next to it. In a less explicit way but still, the feelings were the same. Maybe it was even more disturbing because I could feel it but yet I didn’t know exactly why. There was no logical explanation as: “Oh I feel so bad because here I see an open body”
I also like very much his “explicit” work because I understand why I am repulsed and so I am less confused.

Grayson Perry used to develops images and text that represented his experience in terms of "explicit scenes of sexual perversion – sadomasochism, bondage, transvestism" mainly on pot, because the innocent pot is more adequate to express those scene then a video.

 

The colors attracted my intention, I disliked them immediately: they made me feel quite nauseous.
The background (earth?) look like it is disappearing because of his very soft yellow. The cars are really shiny, painted with shiny (mirror) metallic-blue enamel. The contrast is strong but the artist found the perfect solution: the blue of cars is a very clear one. The people are very small, floating around the vase as if it was a globe. They are many and everywhere. Like the background, people look like they are disappearing. Fading away. They are everywhere but without real presence. The cars on the other hand are shining and imposing. They are also all crashed.
On Japanese and Greek vases, the figure of men and nature are the most important. You can see the amazing story of Icarus, a men reading or a beautiful representation of nature. Those vases are here to glorify Men and their surroundings. Grayson Perry does the exact contrary resulting in a genial social critic.
On his vase, first you see those shining but crashed cars (materialistic possessions soon transformed into trash).Then, all those men floating around (They sure are a lot but they are not glorified as individuals) and, finally, this yellow-faddin’away background which could be interpreted as nature/surrounding. Something else is referring to nature but, the nature that men have chosen : The palm tree, and anyway, it is behind crashed by a car. What an irony!

The last reason why I like this item, this vase, is because of the panel of cultures Grayson Perry refers to.
First I recognized the Japanese vase shape. Then, I remembered that Greeks also used those kinds of storytelling vases but with a lightly different shape.

The drawings on the vase are recognizable as contemporary and from the Western part of the world mainly by the use of symbols , items and objects.
And I felt a South American sensitivity. It is not so clear on the item I choose but in some others of his works, the way of using colors and to compose seams inspired from the Mexican frescos and South America way of organizing item and the way of using colors.

 

Grayson Perry – Strangely Familiar


Sunday, November 18, 2012

 

I had walked around the design exhibition of the New Stedelijk for about an hour, when, after rows and rows of Swedish cutleries, german engineering and dutch design homes, my eyes fell on a piece of pottery by an English artist. His name was Grayson Perry and the work was Strangely Familiar, a ceramic vase acquired by the museum in 2000, contrasting quite a bit from the otherwise dutiful and rather dull exhibition. The vase show blue human figures engaged in sadomasochistic sex over a background of British suburbia. A sentence is written upon it: ‘DADDY DON’T HIT ME, MUMMY STOP HIM...’

 

 

A few years back I studied archeology at the university of Stockholm, and for me the most inspiring part of the studies was antique art. The evolution of art in the early centuries of history, in Sumeria, Egypt and Greece is a favorite subject of mine. When I see the pottery of this contemporary artist I recall the faces of Achilles and Ajax, playing a game of dice on the black-figure pottery of 6th century BC Greek painter and potter Exekias I saw at the Vatican Museums in Vatican City. Grayson Perry pays heed to this tradition and the images on Strangely Familiar remind me of the bacchanals, and is not far from the courting of young boys, often shown in both black- and red figure pottery painting. His splashing text, as recited above, also goes back to the way Greek painters wrote text on their pottery.

Perry discovered early on that he was of a masochistic nature and at the same time a transvestite, which reflects in a lot of his work. His earlier works where in film, but as the medium failed him he found it more interesting and effective to use ceramics, tapestry, metal-works and other applied art forms. Here the beauty and usefulness of the work hid the underlying layer, which sometimes would be sexual or violent, but always and more importantly a vehicle for criticism; comments on social injustices and hypocrisies. Here I find the explanation of why we find Grayson Perry, the artist, in the design exhibit of the Stedelijk. He is surely an artist, and a well-read one at that, but his works are in the field of applied arts. They are essentially meant to be used and useful, in the same way Greek artist made vases that were commissioned by the wealthy families.

Although this is an interesting distinction, that in fact places Strangely Familiar directly in my path, I don’t think that Perry’s vases will ever be used as such. I believe they are works of art in their own right, and the reason we find them alongside teapots, telephones, Bauhaus and De Stijl is a question of definition, and Perry’s choice to work in traditionally applied art forms.

At the same time it is argued that art and design has moved closer to each other in later years, and that they in some cases are indistinguishable. An artist can easily work as a designer, while a designer successfully creates or uses art in his projects. That this is a later development I realized in the halls of the design exhibit, where the visitor moves through rooms chronologically and thematically ordered to show works of great design. As the rooms become more contemporary, I feel there is a certain shift, from usefulness and immediately perceived function towards less obvious designs, that are more autonomous. It is in this last room I find Strangely Familiar.

I am drawn to it, at first by the likeness to a dear subject of mine, the Greek vases, but then I am intrigued by the subject matter of the vase itself. At this moment I haven’t heard of this artist, but the work speaks volumes about him. When I later read about him in the library, I learn of his life as a cross-dresser, artist and art historian. He has practically become a hold house-name in England, and apart from his own work, he writes books about art and curates shows for museums. In 2002, the Stedelijk held a solo exhibition for him, which in turn made him a Turner Prize-winner the year after. He accepted the prize while in his cross dressing-persona Claire.

 

Further reading and video:
"The Thomb of the Unknown Craftsman"; Grayson Perry in the British Museum until 26 February 2012

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/in-the-best-possible-taste-grayson-perry/4od

 


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