Sunday, 25 August 2013

DIY Sacrifice

Please press the lever: Saint Thomas' hand needs to poke the wounds of Jesus.
Or do you prefer to make Saint Jerome hit himself with a rock to expiate his sins (and maybe yours)?

No, this is not a dream or a Bible Theme-park, it's the National Gallery. Never has one seen the place so irreverent. But who else to jazz it up - and re-interpret their collection - if not machino-phile oddball artist Michael Landy

Like his Credit Card Destroying Machine which ate my Visa at Frieze 2011, Landy's pieces in the current show "Saints Alive"  playfully tackle themes of sacrifice and self-destruction. And this is good. Because it lifts the rest of the Gallery halls from the dusty depths of history and pulls them into the now, the moment your foot hits that lever. You have to feel it before you believe it.

Is one disappointed to learn that Landy had the sculptures made according to drawings? A little - like hearing a saint say he curated a miracle. Does that make the show any less relevant? No. The effect of the sculptures - together with Landy's collages - is so moving it will make you forgive. Praised be the artist.

Until 24 November at the National Gallery. 

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