Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst at Newport Street Gallery

Jeff Koons. Damien Hirst.  – Two artist I am only aware of because the rest of the world made it so. Be that my Lectures, Galleries, Reviews.

They are artist’s I like to talk about, study, observe. But I would never aim to be them, they do not inspire me. Or do they inspire me to produce work which could be considered the polar opposite of them… Food for thought.
– At the beginning of 2016 I was reading endless books, exhibitions catalogues about Jeff Koons for a essay I was writing discussing politics and capitalism in art. This gave me a little more insight into what the artist is about. Or what everyone else thinks the artist is about. He does not say a great deal and what he does often differs from others opinions.

everybody grew up surrounded by this material. I try not to use it in any cynical manner. I use it to penetrate mass consciousness – to communicate to people… I want to communicate to as wide a mass as possible.” Jeff Koons

I do not feel like I get to know him or Hirst through their work.
Is it forced? A pretence of perception? Is that the point, is Koons simply offering a reflection? not himself. – insert thought of big balloon creatures –

HOWEVER! I am very interested in their connection. How a story starts with innocence. A second year art student, discovering himself at the beginning of his adventure – finds a elaborate forceful artist in the late 70’s. Connections within the art industry are everything. They get you jobs, the gallery spaces, the solo exhibitions, the reviews. They also inspire, inflict and distort your practise. Is anything an original or just a replica and mash up of everyone who inspires us? a visual representation of our connections?

Realistically Hirst and Koons are marmite. You love them or you hate them. Here are what I feel the main points are from the Telegraph and Guardian on the Newport Street Gallery;

His almost pathological lack of cynicism and heartfelt determination to create belief-suspending miracles out of the most unlikely origins has on several occasions pushed Koons almost to the brink of personal and financial ruin. This, combined with his embracing of fluffy puppies, baskets of kittens, dime-store kiddie toys and hardcore porn has often proved difficult for the hard-boiled art world to swallow, and perhaps accounts for his lack of institutional recognition in the notoriously taste-fixated UK. (One honourable exception being the Serpentine’s 2009 exhibition of Koons’ Popeye Series of paintings and inflatable sculptures, his first – and last – show in a British public gallery.)” Louisa Buck

the unlikely change of medium also destabilises all accepted notions of material, weight, mass and image… Likewise the vast gleaming reflective balloon dog becomes fragile in a whole new way: rationally you know that it is not air creating all that surface tension but the sense of association remains so strong that the danger of it popping – with devastating consequences – still seems utterly, threateningly real. ” Louisa Buck

Koons’s ambitions are crass and he has achieved them all – he has turned his art into business and, boy, has he made it big in that business. He is the Donald Trump of art. In what is now a pretty long career, Koons has done more than any other human being to destroy taste, sensitivity, and the idea that striking it rich as an artist has anything to do with talent. He has also inspired an ambitious young man from Leeds to follow in his golden footsteps.” Jonathon Jones

There is a common defence of Koons and it runs something like this. He is a satirist. The inanity of his objects is the inanity of our world. You think you have loftier desires than to fuck Ilona Staller? Are you sure? His crass plastic universe is a mirror of the kitsch hell capitalism has created. If Koons shocks, it is because he reflects our time accurately. That’s why this exhibition is subtitled “Now”. Jonathon Jones

If there is one work here that makes that view of Koons plausible, it is a giant blue balloon monkey whose depthless, boundless surfaces reflect everything, including you, again and again, in multiple blue dreams. It is shallow art for a shallow world, its futile narcissistic mirroring the 21st century answer to Monet’s waterlily pond. It also makes plain exactly how rich Damien Hirst is. Rich enough to buy this monumental toy.” Jonathon Jones

In my personal review I do agree the big balloon creatures are what I find most visually speculator from Koons. Their sheer mass, and attention to detail are an excellent representation of Koons ability. Making you question everything you thought you could know about such ordinary materials. However, once you have seen one, you have seen them all. Dog or Monkey alike. The most striking piece out of this exhibition, which is composed of 36 sculptures and paintings is, Play-Doh (2014). Same concept as our Dog and monkey but a new material. I also do appreciate his use of clean colour. Bright and forceful but not totally overwhelming. The exhibition ends 16th October 2016.

Koons, J. polychromed aluminum. 1994-2014.


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