• Gphero

    Grayson Perry: The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal, 2012 (detail)

Art

Grayson Perry weaves a titillating and tantalising tale of taste in new show

Posted by Maya Davies,

Sometimes it’s harder to write about work that you love; with each word you want to convey how brilliant it is to do it justice. I felt this seeing Grayson Perry’s latest exhibition The Vanity of Small Differences, newly opened at the Victoria Miro. It’s everything we’ve come to expect from the flamboyant artist – a visual feast of whimsy, colour, and provocation. 

Given Grayson Perry’s largely narrative art, it follows that he is an entertaining storyteller. I was lucky enough to experience this first-hand as he walked us through the exhibition– in a wonderful wide-skirted lilac dress – and recounted the motivations for his latest work; an exploration into taste and all the nuances surrounding it. As he posits, taste has become an indicator for the social class someone belongs to and is shaped in large-part by our environment.

Presented as a series of six bold tapestries, The Vanity of Small Differences tells the story of Perry’s protagonist Tim Rakewell (a reference to William Hogarth’s A Rake Progress). Documenting the protagonist Rakewell’s social mobility and ultimate demise, it’s a modern day allegorical tale of consumerism, politics, drive, greed, technology and the varying shades of British culture. 

Measuring two x four metres, the story-board tapestries are even more impressive when viewed up close. Wildly detailed scenes, bursting with colour and personality, they capture characters and places that Grayson Perry visited as part of All in the Best Possible Taste, his three-part programme tie-in for Channel 4. 

  • Gp358_the-adoration-of-the-cage-fighters_2012-full

    Grayson Perry: The Adoration of the Cage Fighters, 2012

Perry is undeniably bright, and beguiled us with stories: the cultural fetishism; the bling; the rituals and traditions in different social groups he discovered during his research. In general, he feels people’s taste boiled down to a choice between “sensory pleasure vs aesthetic restraint”.

We tend to associate traditional tapestries with a certain aesthetic restraint in portraying key moments in history, religion, grandeur and myth. It’s surprising to view contemporary depictions of British culture in this art form instead. In Expulsion from Number 8 Eden Close, Jamie Oliver – Mr Social Mobility – is pictured like a god surveilling the scene from the sky. The religious references across all the pieces seem to hint at a very different sort of modern day religion. 

Their production also signifies technological developments and challenges our perceptions of the craft. Perry intricately draws the designs on the computer and then sends them off to be digitally weaved. The translation from screen to textile works well, and despite their scale, they can made far quicker than Grayson Perry’s signature ceramics (a salute to the digital age).

Several of his embellished pots are also exhibited in the fantastic top-floor gallery space, rounding off the exhibition perfectly. All in all, this is a captivating show that is not only visually brilliant but explores very interesting themes and offers insights into different worlds. 

  • Gp360_expulsion-from-number-8-eden-close_2012-full

    Grayson Perry: Expulsion from Number 8 Eden Close, 2012

  • Gp359_the-agony-in-the-car-park_2012-full

    Grayson Perry: The Agony in the Car Park, 2012

  • Gp359_the-agony-in-the-car-park_2012-detail

    Grayson Perry: The Agony in the Car Park, 2012 DETAIL

  • Gp361_-the-annunciation-of-the-virgin-deal_2012-detail

    Grayson Perry:The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal, 2012 DETAIL

  • Gp362_the-upper-class-at-bay_2012-detail

    Grayson Perry: The Upper Class at Bay, 2012 DETAIL

Posted by Maya Davies

Maya joined It’s Nice That in 2011 as our first ever events manager as well as writing for the site, in particular about architecture. She left in the summer of 2013.

Most Recent: Art View Archive

  1. Main

    I came across Graham Little when going through content from the site, he was one of the first people I ever put on the site about three years ago. To revisit his work reminded me just how much I loved him the first time around, particularly as he’s been very busy in the last few years and has created some absolutely stunning new work. There’s something about the poses, and the calm nature of his nymph-like female subjects that makes me slightly uneasy.

  2. Main9

    I’m the third person to take a turn waxing lyrical about the art of Bryan Olson (he was discussed here and here in the past), but I don’t mind, I’m just happy to have the opportunity. The North Carolina-based artist is arguably the master of his medium; a creator of collages so delicately crafted it’s often impossible to tell they’ve been made from hand-cut paper. Though it’s by no means his only concern Bryan focusses a great deal on the cosmos in his work, leaving strange portals into the unknown at the centre of his images or placing earthly objects within inter-planetary scenes. It’s a heady combination that lures viewers in, making them feel like children gazing at a dense night sky or an adult on one hell of a trip.

  3. List

    The phrase “artistic intervention” has a chequered past, but we’re struggling to think of a more impressive example than Frank and Patrik Riklin’s BIGNIK. The ongoing project aims to build a huge picnic cloth by 2040, made up of 252,144 panels – one for every person in the Appenzell region of Switzerland.

  4. Main

    Sure, here at It’s Nice That we love fine art. You may even walk past us on the weekend ambling around in galleries, or poring over art books in libraries. We champion some of the most exquisite architecture, sculpture and filmmaking along with some of the most groundbreaking works of art made in modern times. What you define as “art” is a personal thing, but I can tell you now that when it came to voting on content for the site (we decide on content via a voting process around a table FYI) this Presidents with Boob Faces was a unanimous “YES” from each knowledgeable, art-loving member of the It’s Nice That team. When you can see hard, skilled craftsmanship and evidence of a brave artist taking one small idea and running really, really far with it, how can you resist loving it? These are amazing, and artist Emily Deutchman should be very, very proud of herself.

  5. Main

    When something is well-designed, be it a magazine, building, fashion collection or car – it should be well-celebrated. To honour the spectacular and cutting-edge design of the brand new Lexus NX, a new digital art exhibition entitled NX-Perspectives has been launched. Gathering together some of the world’s leading creative thinkers, makers and doers, Lexus have assigned them to create a special piece of performance art inspired by the Lexus NX to exhibit in the digital show.

  6. List

    London-based artist Aleksandra Mir has been busy over the past month investigating the process of drawing in a collaborative experiment that invites participants to contribute to a giant collage of the London skyline, rendered entirely with Sharpies. The process of creating the work was part of the exhibition itself, with Aleksandra and her team engaged in drawing everything by hand during the first days of the show. But for those that missed it there’s also a beautiful time-lapse film of the process, providing context and insight to this giant piece of collaborative draughtsmanship.

  7. List

    I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking; “How on earth did that priest train a dolphin to carry him like that?” Or maybe you’re thinking; “Where did the photographer have to stand to capture that image?” Or perhaps, in fact, you’re thinking; “This HAS to be fake.” But all of these lines of inquiry are valid in the world of Joan Fontcuberta, the Spanish artist and photographer who’s latest exhibition has just landed at The Science Museum’s Media Space.

  8. List

    You’re on the internet, so you probably like cats, right? Well, these woodblock prints by Tadashige Nishida capture all of those cat qualities that we love to love: his creepy but cute kittens are unafraid and alert, always listening and sensing, and very delicately, playfully poised. Tadashige renders the subtle lines of a cat’s body against brilliantly bold backgrounds, and it is very difficult to work out just what it is that makes his prints so hypnotically intriguing. Doris Lessing, one of literature’s best cat lovers, describes the curious creatures in the following way: “If a fish is the movement of water embodied, given shape, then cat is a diagram and pattern of subtle air.” Tadashige captures these dexterous and whimsical cat attributes beautifully in his surprising, minimalist prints.

  9. List1

    The only real auction action we get exposed to regularly is top programmes like Bargain Hunt or Flog It! but recently the whole auction concept has started to be used in a way that removes our cliched expectations of a collection of people (eccentric oddballs) bidding on antiques (old stuff).

  10. List

    As artist mediums go, paper cutting has its limits, right? Fine spindly branches supporting layers of luscious foliage for example might be a challenging one to recreate with scalpel and paper, for example, as might the rippling shadows that fall across swimming pools. Not so if you’re Lucy Williams. The London-based artist is redefining the nature of mixed media artwork with her absurdly detailed paper cuts. No line is too fine, no detail too small for her to recreate, and it’s precisely this unstoppable eye for detail that’s basically crowned her the queen of the method. Her penchant for mid-20th Century architecture and landscapes has taken her work across the world in exhibitions, and her awe-inspiring portfolio spanning no small number of years functions as a fantastic heap of evidence to explain why. Rub your eyes and gaze on in wonderment at these beauties.

  11. Main

    You don’t get many portfolios as rich and as varied as Urs Fischer’s – his somewhat prolific sculptural work ranges from enormous rooms full of objects imprisoned in steel cubes, John Stezaker-esque collages and gargoyle-like characters that look straight out of Labyrinth. But you know, we’re It’s Nice That, so obviously we’re really into the paintings he did of people through history with hard boiled eggs masking their faces. Really though, these are incredibly beautiful pieces of work. Depending on how much you like eggs, they may or may not make you feel a bit nauseous. For me though, this is the best thing ever.

  12. List-

    Opening tomorrow, the Cob Gallery’s new exhibition explores Pastiche, Parody and Piracy in British artwork, exploring the age-old practice of appropriation as a means to explore new ideas. The exhibition has been put together by curator Camilla Ellingsen Webster, satirical cartoonist Jeremy Banx and artist Miriam Elia, partly in response to threats of legal action against Miriam following the realease of her most recent work We Go to the Gallery.

  13. Blotlist

    From what I can gather, these abstract paintings were made by placing the nibs of inky marker pens on top of a stack of paper. The result is an amazing blotted fusion of kaleidoscopic patterns and rainbow colours, which kind of looks like the psychedelic shapes butterfly wing’s make when seen through a microscope.