Who Are You?

“I is a verb masquerading as a noun”–Julian Baggini, quoted by Grayson Perry. Here’s a short post about the English artist’s exhibition–and riffs on the idea of a portrait–at the National Portrait Gallery in 2015.

odi et amo

On a recent trip to London, I visited Grayson Perry’s latest exhibition, Who Are You? In this showing of fourteen portraits, Perry captures and conveys his subjects’ identities, giving a snapshot of their lives rather that merely depicting their appearances.

I have always loved Perry’s handling and use of traditional media – his trademark tapestries and classical ceramic vases whose Grecian forms he embellishes with friezes of scenes from modern-day life. Who Are You? does not disappoint in this respect. The rooms of the National Portrait Gallery are peppered with Perry’s quilts, maps, ceramics, paintings, and a large printed silk scarf – The Ashford Hijab, a colourfully illustrated piece representing the identity of a young British woman who chose to convert to Islam. Perry’s choice of subjects is wide and varied, depicting 21st century British society in all its glory: the deaf community, the Jesus Army, a young…

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