The Exhibition: NOW by Jeff Koons ends this weekend at Damien Hirst’s Newport St Gallery in Lambeth. The retrospective, the second at the gallery, has been showing since May and has attracted a vast amount of viewers with it’s pop-cult readymades, colourful balloon sculptures and pornographic artworks. Much like Hirst; using the power of kitsch, colour, size and shock, Koons has become one of the most influential and successful living artists of today. So the MANDKHAI team deemed it necessary to catch a glimpse before it ends.
For a lot of people, Jeff Koons sums up everything about Contemporary art that they despise… 'lazy' artists making extortionate amounts of dolla from exhibiting existing objects, regurgitating Duchamp in new ways and making a mockery of the art world. Much like Hirst, he is divisive, a pioneer, and inspired Hirst when a student at Goldsmiths. Hirst is now very much a core collector of his work and owns all but two pieces on show. The exhibition consists of 36 immaculately presented sculptures and paintings, including fluorescently illuminated Hoovers, floating baseballs and inflatable toys, curated by Hirst and Koons together.
The work is extremely varied, and contrasts room to room. A giant, metallic-blue, inflatable, aluminum balloon-monkey is juxtaposed between a selection of hoovers, photorealistic painted snippets of old adverts from the 80’s and beautifully composed pornography starring the artist himself and his then wife, Ilona Staller.
The works themselves are intended personal and political – an attack on art, and an ironic exploitation of the global art market. They don’t actually say very much, they certainly aren’t personally an invitation to feel (in fact they feel like quite the opposite). They also encourage a way of making art that lacks any feeling. The only credit they do truly deserve is the novelty, and the quality of their production, craft and presentation. The show goes on to prove that as an artist, you really can get away with anything.