Saturday, October 20, 2018

The last day of Michael Jackson at the NPG

Tomorrow is the last day of the Michael Jackson - On The Wall exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Jackson by Warhol
This landmark exhibition explores the influence of Michael Jackson on some of the leading names in contemporary art, spanning several generations of artists across all media. Curated by Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, our summer exhibition has opened to coincide with what would have been Michael Jackson’s 60th birthday (on 29 August 2018).
Essentially it's an exhibition about the artwork about his image by contemporary artists of today
Since Andy Warhol first used his image in 1982, Jackson has become the most depicted cultural figure in visual art by an extraordinary array of leading contemporary artists.
I finally went to see it during the week (after the PV for Taylor Wessing - of which more tomorrow)

There were a very few artworks I thought had merit. The Warhols were good. I liked the leather jacket covered in tiny cutlery.

I wasn't sure whether this painting by Kehinde Wiley had merit - I wasn't a fan of the painting - or 'the painting'.

Michael Jackson portrait by Kehinde Wiley
The majority felt and looked tacky - and you need to bear in mind I took no photos of those - except from a distance....

Paintings of Michael Jackson
I guess it's a generational thing - or maybe a celebrity thing?

The entrance to another gallery
What was very noticeable was the exhibition was pretty empty, which seemed a bit off.

Apparently, I was told, it's been really busy with young people at the weekends.

I think the thing that annoyed me the most is that this is the Exhibition that took over the Gallery in which the BP Portrait is normally held - so that the BP got bumped into a gallery which did not suit it and is too small for the number of visitors that exhibition gets

By way of contrast, this is the Gallery that normally houses the BP - and it was EMPTY!

Instead of the BP Portrait Award....

Apart from the area at the end where there was an audio visual installation of German born fans singing the songs - track by track - from Thriller.

The Candice Brietz installation comprises videos of fans singing the songs in a booth in a professional sound studio accompanied by the individual sound recording of that person - meaning it really did sound like they were singing in front of you. It was quite unnerving how in sync with the songs they heard. I assumed there must be a backing track which we didn't hear.

I liked it - it proved to be very seductive - and it was one of the things I did like.
Candice Breitz's Vimeo Channel is worth a look.

Candice Britetz - King Part II
By way of contrast on the whole I found the exhibition very odd. Some of it stimulated feelings of quite strong dislike. Like the constant repeats of the same songs.....

It certainly didn't feel anything like the Michael Jackson I grew up with.

It felt rather more like a lot of artists using his persona / image to riff their artworks - and make money.  Vultures was the metaphor which sprang to mind

If you want to make your own mind up you have one day left!

Dr Bendor Grosvenor has made up his mind - and spoke it on Twitter




The lucky people of Paris, Bonn and Finland will get the exhibition next.

Future tour dates for Michael Jackson - On The Wall

As I came out, I was reminded of the very marked contrast with the extraordinarily successful exhibition about Pink Floyd at the V&A - and all their visual media and art developed around the group, the albums and the concert tours.

Packed from end to end - mostly with people of every generation - and I visited three times.....

(see Pink Floyd's Fabulous Mortal Remains at the V&A and "The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains" at the V&A Museum in 2017 )