My work is like poisoned treasure. It is treasure but could be cursed. They are things that have been brought up from the deep subconscious. “Excavations.” It is like archaeology and psychology.
The full picture of Grayson Perry is introduced in this solo exhibition of his to be held for the first time in Japan. Grayson Perry (1960-), the Turner Prize winner of 2003, is one of the most valued and notable contemporary artists in U.K. mainly through his provocative pots. The scale of this exhibition will be larger than that of any other exhibition of his works held thus far. It looks back on Perry's diverse activities, and shows the world of his earnest, powerful expressions ranging from his early valuable films and sketchbooks to his works from the mid-1980s up to the recent years (ceramics, sculpture, quilts, tapestries, dresses, photos, prints, etc.). What is more, he will make a large number of new works especially for this exhibition, almost one third of the whole show. In particular, his work of huge pot through which he tries to communicate messages concerning the reality of social disparities or popular culture, and a new installation based on the theme “shrine” should be viewed as a group of works indicating his new development. Grayson Perry was born in Chelmsford (U.K.) in 1960, and currently lives in London. After graduating from Portsmouth Polytechnic, Perry was mostly engaged in film production and performance activities in the first half of the 1980s as a member of a group called “Neo-Naturist.” He began to make ceramic works after attending a course on ceramics in the middle of the 1980s. The special feature of Perry’s ceramic works is its visual multi-layered quality, which is made possible by copying images from the photos that he took or magazines as well as decorative patterns commonly used for the mass-produced earthenware on the surface of a pot to make them look lying on top of one another, in addition to depicting various contemporary subjects, such as violence, prejudice, sexual suppression, popular culture, and religious faith, on the forms borrowed from Greek, Chinese, or Japanese classic pots. While creating many ceramic works with elaborate workmanship, he engages in a wide range of media such as embroideries, photographs, prints and sculpture. He often refers to the influences of the peculiar, wild fantasies of outsider artist Henry Darger1 (1892-1973) on his works. He has always been consistent, however, in that he sends messages, without fear of being misunderstood and with fantasy and humorous flavour, regarding such serious topics as violence both domestic and social, prejudices, sexual suppressions, conventional practices and beliefs that people rely on, and further, self-identification. Many of his works contain autobiographical elements as well. Perry is a transvestite, and his female image as ‘Claire’ often appears, and plays an important role, in his works. He does not give a single answer concerning his identity, nor moral standards of society, but questions them. Today, his works provide viewers with a lot of food for thought, because they reveal universal problems latent in any society, through showing more than one viewpoint and different value judgments.
1 Henry Darger was born and died in Chicago. Though he received no education of painting, he left an enormous volume of paintings and a novel “In The Realms of the Unreal.”