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One-Man Show

Posted by Speakeasy News > Tuesday 18 December 2018 > What's On


Grayson Perry is one of the best-known contemporary artists in the U.K, a documentary filmmaker and often a walking work of art. His exhibition “Vanity, Identity, Sexuality” at the Monnaie de Paris gives an overview of his art, which questions British society and politics, and male identity. As well as his original speciality,  ceramics, it features tapestries, and the extraordinary dresses he wears when he appears as his alter-ego Claire.

Perry first came to the attention of the general public when he won the 2003 Turner Prize for contemporary art. He decided to mark the occasion by turning up at the prize ceremony dressed as Claire. He started wearing his sister’s ballet clothes as a teenager in reaction to difficult family circumstances. He describes wearing women’s clothes as giving him access to expressing emotions that as a British man he had been encouraged to repress.He says, “In many ways I had a normal childhood, i.e. a bit of divorce, a little bit of low-grade mental illness, bit of violence. Loads of people living in Britain today have that.”

Another hangover of that childhood is a strong attachment to his teddy bear, Alan Measles, who appears in many of his works.

His wife, Philippa, is a psychotherapist, and they have a 26-year-old daughter. Their first date was to a transvestite club.

Grayson Perry came late to ceramics. After finishing art school in the 1980s and struggling to make a living, a friend suggested pottery was a good way to “keep your hand in” artistically, and was relatively cheap in terms of materials. His “pots” as he calls them are, like the rest of his art, both narrative and autobiographical, often taking on difficult social subjects that contrast with the beauty of the objects.

Perry has made several documentary series, exploring the question of masculinity in All Man, and modern Britain in Rites of Passage and Divided Britain. He was invited to give the prestigious BBC Reith Lectures in 2013.

He was given the honour of curating the Royal Academy of the Arts’ Summer Exhibition for its 250th anniversary in 2018. This video of him presenting the exhibition gives a good introduction to his style.

The Upper Class at Bay, 2012 The clash of classes in Britain, with a traditional aristocratic landowner beset by dogs, watched by the nouveau riche couple who have bought his estate. In the background, left-wing protests placards proclaim, “Rich is bad” and “Tax is Good”.
The Upper Class at Bay, 2012
The clash of classes in Britain, with a traditional aristocratic landowner beset by dogs, watched by the nouveau riche couple who have bought his estate. In the background, left-wing protests placards proclaim, “Rich is bad” and “Tax is Good”.

 

Matching Pair, 2017 (detail) These two vases are the result of a participative project. Perry asked on social media for comments and images from people who either voted for Brexit, or to remain in the EU. Each vase features contributions from one side of the divide. They were created for a documentary series about Brexit, Divided Britain.
Matching Pair, 2017 (detail)
These two vases are the result of a participative project. Perry asked on social media for comments and images from people who either voted for Brexit, or to remain in the EU. Each vase features contributions from one side of the divide.
They were created for a documentary series about Brexit, Divided Britain.

 

 

Perry has long had a fascination with customised motorbikes but when he had his own made he wanted to use it to contradict the many macho images associated with the vehicle. Feminine pink and frills and the words “Patience” and “Humility” dominate the bike. It is also a homage to his teddy bear, Alan Measles, who appears as a victorious warrior at the front of the bike and as a beatific guru figure in a shrine at the back, depicting Perry’s concepts of masculine and feminine experience.
Perry has long had a fascination with customised motorbikes but when he had his own made he wanted to use it to contradict the many macho images associated with the vehicle. Feminine pink and frills and the words “Patience” and “Humility” dominate the bike. It is also a homage to his teddy bear, Alan Measles, who appears as a victorious warrior at the front of the bike and as a beatific guru figure in a shrine at the back, depicting Perry’s concepts of masculine and feminine experience.

 

When Grayson appears as Claire, he is a work of art, with brightly coloured tailor-made clothes and doll-like make up. Perry’s dresses, conceived by him but made by a dressmaker, are included in the exhibition.
When Grayson appears as Claire, he is a work of art, with brightly coloured tailor-made clothes and doll-like make up. Perry’s dresses, conceived by him but made by a dressmaker, are included in the exhibition.

 

Grayson Perry: Vanité, Identité, Sexualité
Till 13 February 2019
Monnaie de Paris