Grayson Perry at the Arnolfini: Our Behind the Scenes Review
As sponsors of the new Grayson Perry exhibition at the Arnolfini, Bristol – The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever! – we sent Tristan our Marketing Administrator to the opening night along with many of our team with VIP tickets – and then sat down with him this morning.
- What were your initial thoughts of the exhibition?
Funny, acerbic, a comment on popularity – who does art appeal to, what does it mean for art to be popular? The most striking thing was how it all comes across so personally curated by Grayson – the information on each piece in his garrulous style, in his voice. The entire event felt like a collage of his own stream of consciousness, creating a narrative in the same way his pots do – saying a lot but leaving plenty more still to interpret.
- The exhibition is described as an exploration of ‘popularity and art, masculinity, class, politics, sex and religion, as well as contemporary issues such as Brexit and Divided Britain’. Which do you think was the predominate theme?
I would say the popularity of art and who it appeals to – with Grayson’s skewering of middle-class art snobs who would spot the more obscure references in his tapestries – he even takes care to note that this is his intention in the information provided. But there was so much to absorb there, and I’m sure that I would notice one of the other themes more strongly on a second or third viewing. There is so much to try and pull out from all the chatter of images, symbols, and words; in the full to bursting Arnolfini, it was always going to be difficult to really dig deep and devote the energy to really peel back the layer after layer of meaning.
- Which was your favourite piece, and why?
King Of Nowhere – the cast iron warrior with the elongated torso seemed particularly to stand out. Sometimes you see a piece of art and it just creates a feeling: it felt startling and immediate but in ways too difficult to unpack or articulate.
- What is Grayson Perry like ‘in the flesh’?
Funny, political, but I would have liked to have seen him speak more.
- What surprised you about the exhibition that you did not expect?
The sheer number of people. The VIP tickets as sponsors gave us a private tour of the exhibition with Grayson Perry before it officially opened, so it was rather startling to be met with over 3000 people as the evening went on! Perhaps that is the way we are supposed to enjoy the exhibition though: as a commentary on the popularity of art, maybe this is the way you should experience it: only digesting small bites as you try and fight your way through the crowds.