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Signed Print Edition of 68
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Joe Syer, Head of Urban & Contemporary Art
This signed etching from 2016 is a limited edition of 68 from Grayson Perry’s Animal Spirit series. The blue etching depicts a seemingly out-of-control hybrid animalesque creature, half bear and half boar, intent on wandering through the devastated surrounding landscape. The animal is surrounded by enigmatic symbols, such as a naked baby placed at the forefront of the depiction, a man on a hanging tree and three shouting crows sitting on top of the animal. This latter is represented with its inside showing, replete with allusive adjectives.
This is one of Perry’s most salient critical and political commentaries on modern history. The print was made upon reflecting on the 2008 financial crisis and reads as a satirical, dark-humoured metaphorical representation of the financial market. After attentive research, the artist was struck by the narrative endorsed by most newspapers and media concerning the rationality of the financial market, which allegedly behaves according to predictable laws. For Perry, the 2008 crisis was the ultimate representation of the market’s instability, an instability conveyed visually by the wild animal. The choice of words ascribed to his intestines emphasises the paradox of the media portrayal of the financial sector in light of the crisis, while at the same time references the predominance of men working in finance so that the work also highlights the gender inequality underlying the sector. The symbols around the animal reference instead Japanese candlestick graphs, which admittedly struck Perry for their inventive names, like Abandoned Baby or Three Black Crows.
Through this layering of references and technical complexity, the work has become emblematic of Perry’s oeuvre and was made into one of the most acclaimed of the artist’s pieces.