I went to see The Whoresley Show the other day – an exhibition dedicated to the late Sebastian Horsley – and very good it is too. It’s on at The Outsiders London in Soho’s Greek Street and runs from 9th August – 14th September 2013, and I highly recommend you go. The gallery is small and intimate but suits his work well, featuring some of his crucifixion series and photos, as well as some of personal artifacts. The real highlight is the collection of human skulls that Horsley kept above his mantelpiece, and is a striking centrepiece as you enter the gallery.
Another impressive installation is in the “dungeon” downstairs, showing a video of the artist’s real-life crucifixion in the Philippines some years before his death. An act of artistic expression as haunting (and mad) as Van Goch chopping off his ear, William Burroughs severing his finger or Chopper Read slicing off his ears in prison (as a protest when they wouldn’t let him watch the telly)
His artwork will not be to everyone’s taste, as indeed was his life – but this small show is interesting and varied enough to give a touching glimpse into this troubled soul’s life. Never appreciated for his artwork in his lifetime – he gained notoriety for his lifestyle instead, which is also well worth reading about – especially his autobiography, Dandy in The Underworld.
Although I’ve been a fan of his life and work for many years, an exhibition of Horsley’s work is long overdue I feel; and furthermore it is fitting that it should be held in Soho, the sleazy London district Horsley called home (the famous “No prostitues here” sign still adorns the door where he lived if you know where to look). And even though I’m not a regular art gallery visitor (certainly not if you have to pay at any rate) – this is the best thing I’ve seen since the David Shigley show at Southbank in 2012; far darker in tone but equally as funny and certainly more moving. Check it out while you can!
Some of Horsley’s work is owned by the likes of Nick Cave, Bryan Ferry and Will Self no less, and his work is up for grabs here. The price list is available in the foyer and for a mere £10,000 – Crucifixion No. 4 – Oil on Canvas – can be yours!
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