Artist Grayson Perry will unveil an ‘iconic and iconoclastic’ portrait of himself at the Fitzrovia Chapel, part of an exhibition running at the end of January. Presented as a dramatic lightbox illuminating the secular, baroque chapel from its ‘impious’ placement on the altar, the portrait reworks the motif of mother and child. Conceived by renowned photographer Richard Ansett, it focuses on Perry’s alter ego, Claire. It balances the influence of centuries of art history with high- camp photographic parody, a vulgar appropriation for the 21st Century.
Ansett and Perry
Ansett met Perry for the first time in 2013 at the Tate Modern, Starr Auditorium, photographing him for the BBC Reith lectures and has worked with Perry every year since for Channel 4 developing photographic strategies to promote Perry’s documentaries of contemporary British life.
Diane Smyth at the British Journal of Photography recognises that Ansett’s portraits “do not flatter to deceive”. On closer inspection, the aesthetic conventions of his work are balanced with the existential mortal detail of Perry’s humanity. Ansett himself recognises that the portrait process is more than mere documentation but is a revealing record of the relationship between artist and sitter. Birth is both representative of Perry and meets Ansett’s own long-term personal themes.
Grayson Perry said: ‘It’s like art.’
Richard Ansett, photographer, said, ‘”Claire is not a natural mother. This is a trans-immaculate conception and a perfect synergy with The Fitzrovia Chapel.”
Faye Hughes, Artistic Director, the Fitzrovia Chapel, said, ‘We are thrilled to be opening 2019 with the bright lights and glorious contradictions of Richard Ansett’s Birth. An artist photographing an artist dressed as a woman illuminating a secular chapel that’s dressed like a traditional church. Perfect.’
Exhibition dates (free entry): Friday 25 to Wednesday 30 January 2019, 11:00 to 16:00
Talks (free entry):13:00, Saturday 26 January and Tuesday 29 January
Press contact details
For press information, an invitation to the private view, interviews or images, contact Madeleine Boomgaarden, Media Lead, the Fitzrovia Chapel: firstname.lastname@example.org (07832 1900 15).