The Whitechapel Gallery’s recent unveiling of rare works by contemporary art’s court jester, Maurizio Cattelan, is an explosion of the repressed hypocrisies embedded in western civilization. Never one to shy away from a good joke, each room is marked with one, whether it be the life size figure of Pope John Paul being hit by a meteorite, a hand giving the finger to a stylized map of Italy or of course the squirrel who’s given up on it all and topped himself.
Cattelan dares to do the unthinkable and make art funny. His cleverest joke is his reincarnation as a waxwork, wearing German artist Joseph Beuys’s famous grey felt suit, whilst dangling from a coat hook. Where Beuys journeyed the idea of artist as saviour, Cattelan is the pirate disrupting the voyage and throwing up the corruption of art and society for all to be seen. No one perfects the role of Emperors new clothes better than he who leaves all interviews and explanations of his works to a man he calls his double. What allows Catelan to get away with this paradoxical message, of poking fun at a system he is fully part of, couldn’t be better said than his own words, “Nobody can frame me because I never pretended I was telling the truth”. Well the words of his double that is….
Exhibition ends 2nd December 2012
Edited by Rachel Ridge