Grayson Perry at the Serpentine
This summer we went to see Grayson Perry: The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever! at the Serpentine Gallery. I interviewed Niek on what he thought of the works:
T – So Niek, did you enjoy the Grayson Perry exhibition?
N – Yes, I really liked it and I was actually surprised and I wasn’t expecting much. I thought it was a really small gallery and I didn’t really know him, even though Tanya told me he was famous, so I didn’t have any expectations. But I really liked it and thought it was quite diverse.
T – Were there any particular pieces or media that you found interesting?
N – I liked the pottery and his inclusion of painting and text on it. The text was a bit clichéd, but also funny and a bit political. It could have been quite obvious but because the messages were painted onto the surface of a pot it wasn’t too obvious.
T – What do you mean by it possibly being too obvious? What’s obvious?
N – Like “look at me with my political statement”. What do you think about that Tanya?
T – I just find it funny that you think he’s not saying “hey look at me” because I think that is exactly what Grayson Perry always does.
N – But maybe because he is so obvious he’s almost sarcastic. Maybe he’s making fun of being a political artist.
T – Do you actually remember any of the political statements he was making? Because I only remember one.
N – Which was?
T – The big fat pig money box at the entrance where you could put money into different categories, but in the end it all fell into the same pig’s belly.
N – Oh yeah that one was quite funny and also quite obvious.
T – I guess what I’m really asking is how many of the pieces you actually remember? because I didn’t find individual pieces very memorable.
N – The pig, the motorcycle, the Greek style vase. I don’t find it fair to ask that, I wouldn’t be able to tell you the answer to that for any museum or artist I’ve seen. I like it if I can appreciate it, I want to look at the piece and regardless of who made it I like it if I can see some thought in it and some effort in it. It is not always easy to find work like this in a gallery. I like things to be beautiful as I do with architecture and to make some kind of sense.
T – What did you find beautiful about Grayson Perry’s work?
N – That they have been created in different steps.
T – Are you talking particularly about the pottery?
N – No about everything actually. I would say that you can see his design decisions, and I don’t think it’s enough for it to just have enough layers or steps. But you can see each step and see that he’s made a decision about the colour, the materials, the texture, the content. I think they are nice design decisions and it becomes a total. I know this is coming from an architect, but some of his books with his drawings are there and they look like the drawings from an architect or product designer. It is very clear when a step hasn’t been thought through or missed and I don’t think he missed any. I don’t care so much about his background or reputation, I just want to be able to appreciate the work.
N – So what do you think about this exhibition?
T – I didn’t like it. I normally like his work, but I was surprisedly unimpressed with this exhibition. I have liked his pottery before.
Here we swapped the interviewee from N to T
N – What did you like about that?
T – It is bulbous and accessible. It feels like you’re allowed to pick it up. But this time I found the colours quite dull. And the space was very crowded, so you had to wait your turn to properly see a piece. The Serpentine were controlling the amount of people that could go into the exhibition, so maybe they could have let in less people.
N – What about the work itself apart from the dull colours?
T – I really appreciate the skill in the pottery and the tapestries, and the effort that has been put into understanding those materials and techniques. So I find it a shame that there have to be such strong messages showing through the work. I think it distracts the people from talking about how the pieces were made and the craftsmanship behind it.
N – So you have a similar interest as I had in the steps that were taken to make the work.
T – Yes but I didn’t see the design steps as strongly, maybe as they were masked by these strong statements.
N – In a way for you he could have just got rid of the step of smearing statements all over his work, whilst I kind of liked this step.
T – Yes. But it then has less content, what images would he then overlap on his pottery?
N – So are you saying that he should have those statements?
T – I understand that he needs them and that without them it wouldn’t work. Maybe he could use statements or content that is more mundane and less political.
N – Like your ceramics?
T – Very funny
The exhibition has now finished at the Serpentine, however it is currently on at Arnolfini in Bristol. It is free of charge and runs until December 24th. Click on the links below for more information.
Now let’s hear what Grayson Perry has to say about his exhibition.