Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)
10 Dec 2015 to 01 May 2016
Grayson Perry (born Chelmsford, Essex 1960) is one of Britain’s most acclaimed contemporary artists, known for his ceramic works, sculptures in iron and brass, drawings, prints and tapestries. With a keen eye for detail and a love of the popular and vernacular, Perry infuses his art works with a sly humour and reflection on society past and present. Various themes are explored through Perry’s multi-faceted practice including the history of taste and social class in Britain, religious and folk iconography, and representations of gender and sexuality.
The artist’s highly decorated pots in particular reveal a panoply of imagery ranging from the highly personal to the political, their subjects including his own family, the art world, Biblical stories, the royal family, and images of warfare and sexual fantasy. Perry’s transvestism and feminine alter ego Claire – described by the artist as ‘a central plank of my creative drive’ – emerges through his practice as a recurring visual motif. A contemporary of the YBA (Young British Artists) generation, he has forged a distinctive career that sits apart from the cooler theoretical approach of some of his peers, favouring a more flamboyant, accessible aesthetic that blurs the division of high art and popular culture.
Perry held his first solo exhibition in England in 1984 and has exhibited his works internationally since the early 1990s. He was awarded the prestigious Turner Prize in 2003 and in 2011 combined his own works with historical artefacts from the British Museum collection in Grayson Perry: The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman. He has made numerous television appearances, hosting his own Channel 4 series In the Best Possible Taste – Grayson Perry in 2012, then Grayson Perry: Who Are You? in late 2014, along with his solo exhibition on the theme of portraiture and British identity at the National Portrait Gallery, London. In 2013 he delivered The Reith Lectures, BBC Radio 4’s annual flagship talk series by leading international thinkers, to widespread critical acclaim.
Perry’s solo exhibition at the MCA represented the artist’s first major survey in the region. It introduced the full spectrum of his practice from the early 1980s to the present, including new work. The artist was present for the opening events and delivered a keynote lecture to introduce this exhibition at the Sydney Opera House on 13 December 2015.