In his unpretentious and witty way, Grayson Perry finds a visual language for Britain’s political climate in his beautiful new show. By Matthew Collings
Popular and populism are loaded terms right now. It’s no accident Trump and Farage are among the characters Perry depicts, along with his own inner symbolic beings, Female Grayson and Innocent Grayson.
He’s looking for a kind of artistic lexicon of Brexit sights and meanings: what will convey our present state most vividly? The theme is elaborated with a great profusion of funny and witty — and visually delightful; often decoratively beautiful — insights about the problems and issues of male identity. This is summed up by the sculpture Object in Foreground 2017, a phallus on a plinth.
It’s all pretty tremendous, teeming with ideas about popularity, politics and culture. It wasn’t timed for the general election of course but it buzzes with implications for it. A Fine Pair 2017 is two vases, each adorned with images provided to Perry by Remainers and Brexiteers following an appeal on social media and TV. They sent whatever made sense to them. We see fat men drinking beer in clothing decorated with Union Flag patterns, and oldsters on mobility scooters or posing with an electric guitar. Both pots are blue because it’s the most popular colour in Britain by far, it turns out.
Image: Grayson Perry, Death of a Working Hero, 2016
Tapestry, Courtesy the artist, Paragon Press and Victoria Miro, London, Photography: Stephen White © Grayson Perry