On Thursday 23rd July, I took the time to walk into Phillips for the Joana Vasconcelos exhibition. I had passed the window so many times, a giant pink installation somewhat reminiscent of a Chinese dragon that hangs from the ceiling, beckoning me to enter, and I must say I’m truly grateful to have finally answered the call.
It’s been sometime since an art show has made me organically smile, but this selling show, entitled ‘Material World‘ had me grinning from ear-to-ear — not because the art was ironic, banal, clever or even comic in nature — (although it is many of these things) but because it brought me so much joy.
For while banality and irony are prevalent themes for Joana in striving to express collective identity and the politics of feminism, for me this exhibition, featuring over 40 works by the artist spanning various periods of her career thus far, is really about the staggering beauty of life. The sheer scope of many of the works commands respect and reminds the viewer that we, as humans, are but a tiny speck of the overarching puzzle.
The colours seem to dance off the walls, the textures forcing me to restrain my desire to reach out and touch. Twin shower-heads spouting a multi-coloured mish mash of textiles, thread, tassels and pom poms, enormous cushions encased in an ornate gold painted frame and decorated with giant kitsch plastic beads shaped like hearts and stars, oversized porcelain animals bedecked in an embroidered second skin– while these artworks can be construed, at least partially, as statements on domestic and consumer culture, they feel, to me, primarily like an unapologetic celebration of this crazy world we call home.
Joana herself says, “The works chosen for the exhibition look to challenge and transform fragments of the domestic environment into a deep, hedonistic desire to express life.” And I say “express life” is something ‘Material World‘ absolutely does.
– India Irving
Joana Vasconcelos ‘Material World‘ is on view at Phillips until 30th August, 2015; 30 Berkeley Square, London, W1J 6EX; Open Monday – Saturday 10AM-6PM; Admission: FREE