Monday, 7 March 2016

200words: Newport Street Gallery

High Priest Hirst's new temple positions his brand to cater culture to the emerging diplomatic quarter brokering nuclear power at Vauxhall.

Newport Street Gallery is a deft manoeuvre by the former formaldehyde-monger, schooled in YBA's practice of neo-liberal warehouse renaissance, flogging flesh and gilded bones to kleptocrats in a stylised performance art of self-aware gentrification. From without, the monied machinery is worn lightly, woven discretely into a rugged industrial street-scape. Within, however, turbo-charged religion is going on.

Caruso St John have choreographed a substance dualism, calculated to enshrine art thusly: the vast immateriality of infinite white gallery chasms interlinked by exquisite exercises in a very material obsession. The staircases are gorgeous. Gracious, balletic, asymptotic gestures manufactured with unspeakable precision. Wombs of nougat brick, every surface suggestive and seductive. The million-pound milled handrail, cast deep into the wall is a cavity that invites caress, a building yearning that you would run your fingers across the rim of the groove. Here, newly clothed emperors are nude descending a staircase, briefly and illicitly embodied, between the heady cerebral galleries.

Lastly, and lately added, the Pharmacy bar. If the gallery is the Father's transcendence and the stairs are the Son's immanence, here is the Holy Spirit cabinet. And Hirst, drunk on his own communion wine, vomits mixed metaphors on every surface. Bubblegum flavoured d├ęcor jostles with surgical memento mori. This clowning gory finale gives a sickly glib aftertaste to an otherwise sumptuous building.

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