If you are down in Brighton for the May festival, or popping down for a sunny/dirty/hen weekend in the Summer, do pop in to the Art Gallery to have a look at the Jeff Koon's exhibition. Me and my mum joined the Brighton Museums and Art Gallery (so middle class I know), so we got invited to the private view tonight. After our initial shock that one had to pay, yes PAY, for wine (not even Champagne) we got to look at the exhibition.
Showcasing some of his most prolific works- from the Inflatable series and the winter bears, to the New Hoover Convertibles and animal mirrors, the pieces show the true breadth of his work in a succinct collection. My personal favourite is 'Winter Bears'. To me, the sculpture really encapsulates Koons' attitude towards our current obsession with consumerism and all things commercial. At first glance, the kitsch grinning animals seem to represent a youthful exuberance- with hopeful beady eyes and cute clothing. Yet as you continue to gaze, a vaguely sinister undertone peeps through the thin gauze of the superficial. The bear's smiles are frozen, their eyes are empty, you realise that the whole portrayal is wholly insincere. They become a bushy tailed wide eyed stereotype; a parody of the Disney juggernaut that shapes the children of this generation. The bears represent a complete culture of consumerism; when even the complete innocence of childhood is not beyond corruption. Here, Koons' suggests that much of our culture, and indeed our inherent systems of belief, are indeed shallow artifice which mask a much harsher reality.
The best thing about his work is that it invites comment and extrospection in its honest, apparent simplicity. The work is completely subversive in its nature. Take the animal mirrors; they very literally force the viewer to become the viewed. The artwork becomes active, the viewer passive; forcing a questioning of the piece itself. The best shows are ones which are the loudest, I love hearing 'what does this mean?!', conversation and opinion is what keeps art vibrant and truly alive.
It opens to the public tomorrow and carries on till September the 8th. Fabulous!
Read this fab article on Koons and also info on the exhibition: