In common with many of the world's leading aesthetes and metrosexuals, I maintain a small private collection of objects d'art
, priceless treasures which adorn my study and arrayed solely for my pleasure, that I might contemplate their beauty in peace. It will surprise you little that I must have one of my minions constantly field calls from the Getty, Met, Louvre, Hermitage and that insufferable little man who married Nigella, each offering me ludicrous sums to take ownership of these gems, or else pointlessly soliciting some putative but absent sense of public service such that these artifacts might be displayed to the great unwashed. Of course, it stretches credulity to imagine that the general populace possess the faculty to appreciate even the merest whisper of the genius displayed in these works, let alone their myriad subtleties, ironies and painterly bon mots
Today then, a rare treat for the muggles, as I unveil a trio of my rarest trophies to the proverbial man on the Clapham Omnibus...
Three Pickles, a Blob of Chocolate Ice-Cream and a Blob of Mint Ice-Cream (2010)
On a purely sensual level the initial reaction is of one hunger, not just for sustenance, but for the forbidden as suggested by the taboo mixing of pickles and ice-cream and of course their symbolic evocation of pregnant desire. At the same time, the strokes spell out a binary thirteen (1101), suggesting bad luck, or perhaps the indigestion or remorse that inevitably follows transgression. The final pickle, luscious in its yellow-green patina, thus forms a "sour period" - a visual jest which underscores the subtle play between linguistic and symbolic forms which suffuse the piece.
The urgency of the metapolitical statement in the piece, the audacious clarity of the bacterial red and blue forms initially led to its dismissal as sophomoric ("pedestrian", ran the New Yorker's op-ed, if I recall correctly). Yet it is the broad spermatozoan form of mixed-color entering from stage right, suggestive of both an environmental Precambrian formlessness and a microscopic insignificance, that lends gravitas to this piece; and the failure to perceive this subtlety nothing less than I would expect of a graduate of Brown.
It is in this moment of repose that the breadth of the artist's repertoire is realized, the softness of color and richness of palate, the broad, effortless strokes – one is at peace... and yet, can it be so? Does not the reputation of this enfant terrible
subvert our perception? Can the shadow of the artist ever truly be occluded? That is the dynamic tension that both delights and seduces.