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Indepth Arts News:

"Grayson Perry - Guerrilla Tactics"
2002-05-18 until 2002-08-25
Stedelijk Museum
Amsterdam, , NL

Grayson Perry's work is almost unknown in The Netherlands. In England, on the other hand, the public are already widely acquainted with his provocative pots, by way of the Saatchi 'New Labour' exhibition last year, and others. Stories about sex, violence, seduction, Perry's female alter ego Claire and his traumatic childhood in provincial Essex unroll on the gleaming, decorated pots and vases. The Stedelijk, which has been following the work of Perry (b. Chelmsford, 1960) for some time, now presents a survey of it.

At first sight Perry's pots stand in the centuries-old tradition of classic vases decorated with figures. They look attractive, full of colour and loaded with pictures, inscriptions and decorations. The sting is in the nature of the decorations: they deal with various more or less autobiographical themes, designed with bitter irony and full of abject and confrontational details. It is particularly the combination of innocent, fussy, handmade decorative pots and these shocking images that is so staggering. The narratives themselves range in subject from Perry's youth in Essex and his transvestism, which was particularly hard to swallow for that bourgeois milieu, to a visual commentary on the British art world with its affected manners.

At the beginning of the 1980s Perry was one of the Neo- Naturists in London – a group that embraced a contrary, consciously unfashionable culture, exploring new territory, as Andrew Wilson explains in his article in the catalogue that accompanies the exhibition at the Stedelijk. Perry participated with performances and made films, but quickly also applied himself to ceramics, with which he had his first successful exhibition in 1985. Precisely the prevailing idea that such work could not be 'high art' fit within the recalcitrant Neo-Naturist attitude. The quilts which are also to be seen in the Stedelijk exhibition arose from a similar vision. In addition, Perry has occupied himself with a form of 'anti-celebrity' photography in which he, as Claire, a sort of cliché Camilla Parker Bowles, poses radiantly in self-made costumes.

The Stedelijk shows a selection of about 45 pots that exhibit a cross-section of Perry's oeuvre and themes. In addition there are a number of drawings, photographs, embroidery pieces, four quilts and two super-8 films. A video portrait of Perry is shown continuously at the presentation.

Grayson Perry
Claire as the Mother of all Battles, 1996

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