Gosh, Josh

Edward Hopper, Nighthawks, The Art Institute of Chicago.

When I was working I had it easy. All I had to do was look after the clients and find new clients. At first I had “back office” as support. By 2015 I had Mid Office, Back Office, two IT depts, Credit, Compliance, Treasury and Management who all could and often did put a spoke in the wheel.

But I had it easy; I just did my job. A friend has been running a gallery in the West End for more than twenty-five years. He has to find the artists, sell their pictures, negotiate his lease, hire (and fire) staff and decide which international art fairs to attend. Every year presents new challenges. He has explored different markets like the Far and Middle East. He used to specialise in 19th century but now does more 20th. You need to have determination to do this.

So could you, in racing parlance, use the Form Book to pick a gallery owner? If you could here’s a short-priced Favourite. His mother is an acclaimed artist, his maternal grandmother won the Booker prize and his paternal grandfather was President of AT&T. His grandmother took him and his brother to the Booker dinners. Beryl Bainbridge said that she was awed when these gorgeous long-haired boys in velvet jackets sashayed in; Josh and Dash Lilley. Josh runs the eponymous Josh Lilley Gallery in London.

FTWeekend had a bit about his latest show by Alex Da Corte (on until 2nd February) and had this picture.

Bad Land, Alex Da Corte, Josh Lilley Gallery.

I was immediately reminded of work by Edward Hopper and wanted to see the real picture and what else was in the show. My walls are pretty crowded – the pictures are skyed as Beaton and Lees-Milne would put it – but a small Hopper doppelgänger would be just the thing to cheer me up when I have a tax bill to pay. What could possibly go wrong?

The Gallery is in a small side street just North of Oxford Circus. I walked the length of the street twice before checking the street number on my ‘phone. I had twice walked past a shop with no signage, except a barber’s scissors in the window and a Bar sign inside. Alex Da Corte had the idea of confusing people’s expectations and distancing his work from a conventional gallery. His plan worked perfectly.

I looked around the installations spread over two floors with interest and bewilderment. No sign of any pictures. I asked gallery director William Pym if maybe they were upstairs. Then the penny dropped. The picture I admired is a photograph of the gallery. Here are a couple of pictures I took of the installations.

Bad Land, Alex Da Corte, Josh Lilley Gallery.
Bad Land, Alex Da Corte, Josh Lilley Gallery.

With an architectural refit of the four gallery spaces and three new films alongside sculptures and wall works in neon, smoke, haberdashery, commercial slat walls, vinyl siding and blown glass, “BAD LAND” is a narrative about the sliding scale of sovereignty, self-sufficiency and despair. It is both nakedly autobiographical and a portrait of tentative, aspirational coexistence. Following “CAR WHORE” (Wake, Detroit) and “1 O O O I S L A N D” (Joe Sheftel Gallery, New York), “BAD LAND” is the third exhibition of a trilogy, initiated in 2013, in which Da Corte appears as the rapper Eminem. (Josh Lilley Gallery website.)

It’s way too cutting edge for me. What’s it all about?


3 thoughts on “Gosh, Josh”

  1. I thought ‘Hopper’ when I saw that image too; perhaps more accurately ‘Hopper meets Hockney’. But I won’t be rushing to the Gallery, I don’t think.

  2. Sir,
    May I be so bold as to make a suggestion re your blog par excellence: I believe readers would benefit from an ‘about’ section profiling the author. I am aware that you belong to that long and illustrious line of Bellews’ of Barmeath, but other information is only hinted at through the various subjects of your writing. I feel if we had some brief biographical information it would help to contextualize your multifarious articles. I marvel at the scope of your creativity and humorous execution of delivery, but would like to associate your writing with fact rather than presumption.

    1. I deliberately decided to write about my life only in posts and if you piece together the 894 posts published so far they give a fairly good picture. The category Family may be a starting point for you. But thank you for reading and your kind words.

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