Wondering into the depths of Lambeth on a Saturday afternoon, I embarked on a long-awaited visit to Newport Street Gallery for Jeff Koons’ first major UK exhibition in seven years.
Jeff Koons: Now is a carefully curated collection of thirty-six works spanning from 1979 to 2014, including pieces from his iconic ‘Inflatables’ and ‘Celebration’ series as collected by his friend and admirer, Damien Hirst. The exhibition which fills six rooms, bought to life the ‘Balloon Monkey (Blue)’ and expertly casted aluminium sculptures I had seen littered amongst my Instagram feed of late. Showcasing the plentiful fruits of Koons’ career and the most extensive exhibition of his art in the UK to date, the hyperreal collection plays on the notions of American culture, sex and objectification that the icon has built his fortune on.
The Artist, whose successes span the globe, manifests his attention to detail in ‘Play-Doh’ – a polychromed aluminium structure based on a lump of modelling clay from his young son. The mammoth structure, which took his team ten years to build, evokes an uneasy standstill in childhood – a theme that plays throughout the exhibition. Accompanied by encased hoovers and suspended basketballs, Koons has an ability to make the ordinary evocative, even when production budgets weren’t so high.
Giant works which aim to ‘constantly remind the viewer of their existence’ mirror a multitude of twinkling phones in a kaleidoscope effect, ‘reflecting equally on the profundities of our existence as on the beauty and banality of the now.’
Hirst’s expansive collection is a big, shiny ode to his idol that remains both classic and current – “The thing I love about Jeff’s work is that it’s contemporary, it’s here, it’s today.”
Jeff Koons: Now is open until the 16th October 2016 with free entry to the public.
Newport Street Gallery
Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 6pm
Saturday – 10am – 10pm
Open on Bank Holidays