Newport Street Gallery, located in Vauxhall, south London, is the perfect place to spend your Sunday. It's just 30 mins far from Oxford street, taking Victoria line and getting off at Vauxhall station, then enjoy the walk through Vauxhall Pleasure Garden. Exhibitions vary between solo and group shows from Damien Hirst's art collection. And admission to the gallery is FREE!
The construction of the Gallery involved the conversion of three listed buildings, which were purpose-built in 1913 to serve as scenery painting studios for the booming Victorian theatre industry in London's West End. With the addition of two new buildings, the gallery now spans half the length of the street.
The current exhibition 'Now' is the first major UK exhibition to be devoted to the artist since ‘Jeff Koons: Popeye Series’, at the Serpentine Gallery in 2009. Jeff Koons is widely considered to be one of the most significant artists to have emerged in the postwar era.
One of his first experiments with readymades, Inflatable Flower (Short White, Tall Purple) (1979) is displayed in Gallery 1. Alongside, there is a number of his iconic Hoover sculptures, part of The New series (1980–1983). The inflatable then became one of Koons's most persistent themes.
Balloon Monkey (Blue) (2006-2013) is displayed in Gallery 2. Its exterior is highly reflective as Koons has since evolved his fabrication process having spent years of research developing cutting-edge technology for his monumental stainless sculptures.
The 'Made in Heaven' series, created from 1989 to 1991, are displayed in Gallery 3 (No Photo allowed in this section). The series includes life-size sculptures and large-scale images of Koons and Ilona Staller, his then wife, in a variety of erotic scenes.
Three Ball 50/50 Tank (Spalding Dr. JK Silver Series) (1985) is featured in Gallery 4. The glass tank with basketballs either floating or suspended in water in perfect equilibrium. There are also Jim Beam - J.B. Turner Train (1986) from 'Luxury and Degradation' series, an Italian Woman (1986) from 'Statuary' series, and the statue of a pedlar, Kiepenkerl (1987), which are displayed in this section.
Gallery 5 features three sculptures from the 'Popeye' series. The inflatable pool toys that interact with readymade objects in Acrobat (2003-2009), Seal Walrus (Chairs) (2003-2009), and Sling Hook (2007-2009) are designed to fool the eye. They look like vinyl but made of aluminium and painted to appear exactly like the real thing. So better don't trust everything you see :P
Play-Doh (1994-2014), from Koons's on-going 'Celebration' series, is displayed in Gallery 6. It faithfully reproduces - at mountainous size - a small lump of modelling clay fashioned by Koons's young son. The twenty-seven individual pieces are cast in aluminium - YES ALUMINIUM! - and held together simply by their own weight. It encompasses some of the most technically challenging works in his career. Alongside, equally evocative of childhood, the illusory Elephant (2003) and Titi (2004-2009) appear to be fragile, air-filled inflatables, but actually made of stainless steel that mirrors the viewers. As Duchamp believed, and Koons paraphrases. "The viewers always finish the work of art, so they always have the boat word."
After taking a walk, if you're hungry, stop by at Pharmacy 2 which is Damien Hirst’s new restaurant in collaboration with Mark Hix. Not only serves the quality food made from fresh ingredients, it also gives visitors the opportunity to view some of Hirst’s own art. It features work from some of the artist's most iconic series including the Medicine Cabinets and butterfly Kaleidoscope paintings.
Newport Street Gallery is worth checking out, don't you think?