Fri 3 Feb 2023 to Sat 25 Mar 2023
16 Wharf Road, N1 7RW Grayson Perry: Posh Cloths
Artist: Grayson Perry
Victoria Miro presents two exhibitions by Grayson Perry in London and Venice. In London, a selection of textile works from the past eight years, including new tapestries, is on view.
360 × 274 cm
© Grayson Perry. Courtesy the artist, Paragon | Contemporary Editions Ltd and Victoria Miro
100 × 138 cm
© Grayson Perry Courtesy the artist, Paragon | Contemporary Editions Ltd and Victoria Miro
Added to list
Textiles have long been part of Grayson Perry’s creative vocabulary. Bringing together a selection of tapestries completed during the past eight years, the London exhibition unites works old and new across the core themes and subjects of his work. Perry’s tapestries take an art form traditionally associated with grand houses – depicting classical myths, historical and religious scenes and epic battles – and play with the idea of using this ancient allegorical art to elevate the dramas of contemporary British life. Politics, consumerism, history and art history are bound up in the work, in both subject and medium.
For Morris, Gainsborough, Turner, Riley, 2021, Perry combined imagery drawn from the history of British art, featuring work by William Morris, Thomas Gainsborough, JMW Turner and Bridget Riley. These works are not referenced outright; rather, they are digitally altered or adjusted, their colours and orientation changed within the tapestry’s rich and layered textures. In Battle of Britain, 2017, Perry creates a vista not dissimilar to the landscape of Essex that also, as the artist realised during its making, is redolent of Battle of Britain, 1941, by Paul Nash, one of Perry’s favourite paintings. He explains, ‘Having yet again acknowledged the power of the unconscious I continued with the work, playing up the associations and weaving in references to the current conflicts within our society.’
Large Expensive Abstract Painting, 2019, is a tapestry that, bearing some of the hallmarks of twentieth-century abstraction, is also a map of London – traversed by the familiar serpentine form of the Thames and containing words that appear to chime with the social forces, tastes and codes of their corresponding locations. A companion work, Very Large Very Expensive Abstract Painting, 2020, enfolds a map of Manhattan and a Jackson Pollock-style abstraction within its imagery. Writing about the work, Perry notes, ‘If I think of American cultural power, the image that pops into my head is a huge Abstract Expressionist painting, a Cold War symbol of a self-confident land of the free. This tapestry is made up of layers that reflect some of the cultural and social archaeology of Manhattan.’
Earlier works include two tapestries made for A House for Essex, designed by Perry in collaboration with FAT Architecture in 2015 to evoke a wayside pilgrimage chapel which, instead of a patron saint, is dedicated to the life of a fictional character, Julie Cope. Completed in the style of Renaissance religious paintings, with the main characters shown several times in vignettes within each image, the tapestries illustrate key moments in Cope’s life.
A new three-part series, Grayson Perry’s Full English, in which Perry travels around England as he tries to uncover what Englishness means today, begins on Channel 4 at 9pm on 26 January 2023.