(reviewed at the Castle Museum & Art Gallery, Norwich as part of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2015 on 13 May)
There’s something innately theatrical about the Jeff Koons exhibition on display is the Artist Rooms at Norwich Castle. It’s playful – “easy fun” has been one description – and contrasts a sort of conspicuous consumption shine, colour and glitter with the formality of white, totally realistic sculpture in a classical style and the type of objets trouvés (in this case vacuum cleaners and baseballs) one associates with the prints of Lichenstein and Warhol.
Unlike, for example, some of Damien Hirst’s sculptures which seem deliberately designed to unsettle the viewer, Koons invites us to frolic with him. Rococo shapes are suggested by some of the wall-hung panels, gleaming rich reds, blues, turquoise or green for all the world as though they were enormous facets of gem-stones. The famous anthropomorphic teddy-tears greet us; if you’re lucky, you may also encounter them in human form. Yet even these are not simply Disney.
Those towering urns crammed to their brims with seasonal flowers and fruits familiar from Dutch still-life paintings seem to be the inspiration for the vases of ceramic larger-than-life and twice-as-bright blooms. Again, the air of realism is misleading. But the whole of this exhibition is a double game. Yes, Koons is playing with us. But he’s also inviting us to play with him.
The Jeff Koons exhibition can be seen at the Castle Museum & Art Gallery at Norwich Castle until 6 September.