‘[Perry’s] pots might chart the terrain of his interior life and imagination but they also present, in vivid 3-D, reflections of our own world. Like strange, revelatory globes, they lay out before us landscapes both delightfully foreign and unnervingly familiar’
Executed in 2003 – the year that Grayson Perry became the first ceramic artist to win the Turner Prize – Style Riot stems from his celebrated series of vases. Acquired from the artist that year by the present owner, it has been widely exhibited, most recently in Perry’s first French solo show at La Monnaie de Paris this year. It was the ceramic vases that first brought him to public prominence as a member of the so-called Young British Artist generation in the 1990s. Following the success of his first major solo exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, in 2002, these works propelled him onto a new global stage. Though made using traditional coiling methods, their virtuosic surfaces deploy a complex variety of additional techniques – from glazing and embossing to incision, relief and photographic transfers – which frequently require several firings. Referencing Greek pottery and folk art traditions, the classical forms of his vases are held in tension with their piercing contemporary narratives. Through disparate imagery, Perry’s complex surfaces chronicle his own past, his female alter-ego, sociological concerns and current political issues. In doing so, the artist challenges pottery’s status as a purely decorative and utilitarian craft, transforming his vases into vehicles for cultural and psychological enquiry. ‘We can begin to see Perry’s works as maps of his own creative universe’, writes Jacky Klein; ‘… [his] pots could even be taken for self portraits of a sort’ (J. Klein, Grayson Perry, London 2009, p. 11).