Modern Day Heroes
Standing in the entrance of the Halcyon Gallery, Bruton Street, London, an older gentleman (who frankly should know better) walks in with a beautiful younger woman. She immediately makes a bee line for a piece entitled ‘Sex in the City’, an alluring display of brightly jewelled high-heeled shoes, picks one up and is in the process of slipping off one of her own shoes before an agitated guard intervenes.
This is, essentially, the paradox of Mauro Perucchetti’s work, whose show, a retrospective of his last ten years or so, Modern Day Heroes, Hip Hop Art & Daily News currently adorns the Mayfair gallery: it walks an extremely fine line between the material lifestyle it so successfully sets out to mock, and that hazy and hard to nail down concept of what exactly ‘Art’ is?
Peruccchetti hails originally from Italy, but currently resides in the UK. Tall, sixty-something but with the good looks of someone half his age, looks that one imagines had women dropping at his feet, and absolutely charming. His path to art appears to have occurred after a near-death experience, a particularly nasty car accident in his youth, became associated with the Italian 1960’s art movement Art Povera (literally ‘poor art’) which combined pop aesthetics with social comment, a theme which appears to be strongly re-emerging in Perucchetti’s work the older he gets.
‘Feeding the 500’, whilst not his strongest piece, illustrates this perfectly. Obama’s head, not on the end of a stake as most Republicans would prefer, but adorning a Pez dispenser, more usually adorned by the likes of Hello Kitty and Mickey Mouse, is Perucchetti’s take on the impossibility of the task the American president inherited upon his election. It is this wit, his cunning sense of humour that brings his best works to life, such as ‘Michelangelo 2020’ which sees the High Renaissance’s greatest sculpture undergoing a sex change, or a life-size pregnant Mary, sheathed entirely (burka-like) in chain mail in ‘Something About Mary’, by far his most thought-provoking and disturbing work.
Perhaps best known for his work in resins, his Jelly Baby sculpture, a trio of larger than life soft confectionary is soon to brighten up the central reservation at Marble Arch, it is no surprise that some of his most striking works are constructed of this medium. ‘Blast II’, an electric blue pigmented urethane resin hand grenade with chromed brass firing pin invokes disturbing desires of possession, lethality turned into an object of childlike curiosity. Or ‘Love Serum’, a hypodermic needle that combines the phallic with the dynamics of an intercontinental ballistic missile, successfully capturing the duality of the drug, the fleeting over-dose.
Already collected by a faithful following of those who know their art and with the patronage of the ‘Kingmaker’ Halcyon Gallery there is nothing ‘poor’ about Mauro Perucchetti’s work anymore. So much so that I would advise the old man who should know better, that his time would be better spent investing his money into something far more substantial than his current passing fancy.