David Blandy brings multiple personalities and multi player games to Phoenix Brighton

By Mark Sheerin | 21 August 2012
Colour manga-style illustration of an artist in a cape
© David Blandy
Exhibition: David Blandy – Odysseys, Phoenix Brighton, Brighton, September 1-23 2012

Between the comics, the arcade games and the lego, some observers might deride the pleasures of David Blandy’s biggest show to date. The exhibition at Phoenix promises too much fun. How can it be art as well?

But Blandy is too self-aware and honest not to include these elements. Rather than conceal his love of pop culture, cosplay, hip hop, and all things Japanese, he foregrounds these predilections. Along with the excuses to indulge in music or manga, there is a serious quest for identity here.

Show title Odysseys hints at this fact. So the journey begins here with early work From the Underground, where the artist performs a daring Wu-Tang Clan rap, while taking a trip on the tube.

And it culminates in his latest film Anjin, which gives his surrogate personality to 16th century explorer William James. His journey to Japan and back is reimagined as a lengthy piece of anime.

But this is only the latest of Blandy’s alter egos. Many others should appear in this show and vistors will find most rounded up in one of the dozen customised arcade games here. These let the artist’s various personae battle it out with a little help from one or two players.

Like we say, it should be fun. But in some circles, these games are taken very seriously.

  • Open 11am-6pm. Admission free.

Visit Mark Sheerin's contemporary art blog and follow him on Twitter.
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