Pharrell x Art
After a couple of explosive years, it’s safe to say that Pharrell Williams is one man who does not need any introduction. Needing even less of an explanation is his even more famous hat, the lumpy, Paddington Bear-ish Vivienne Westwood creation superglued to the star’s cranium in a rather transparent bid for notoriety. (It seems to have worked- don’t you just want to knock it off his head with a water pistol?!)
His massive album 2013 album G I R L (which is still spawning hits) recently tied in with a namesake art exhibition in Paris. The show, which brought together 34 artists- including those who had made work especially for the exhibition- was presented in Galerie Perrotin’s new space, the Salle de Bal, a former ballroom at the Hôtel du Grand Veneur. The works in the show spanned a range of media, united- like the album- by the theme of a ‘celebration of women’. In a show announcing itself as much it is disappointing, even pitiful, to note that under half of the artists included in the exhibition were female.
Pharrell’s well-meaning stab at championing gender equality misfires again at the inclusion of work by a prominent perv, the photographer Terry Richardson- an addition thrown into sharp relief after the whole Blurred Lines fiasco, and Pharrell’s rather odd comment that he can’t possibly be a feminist because he’s “a man.” (Um whut?)
Thank goodness, then, that many of the works in G I R L spoke for themselves, with iconic and accomplished works making an appearance from the likes of Marina Abramovich, Yoko Ono, Guerilla Girls and Tracey Emin.
Other eye-catching pieces from the show looked to be shrines to Williams himself. The designs adorning Rob Pruitt’s Studio Loveseat (Pharrell) made it appear as though it had seen the entirety of Pharrell’s creative psyche splashed across it, lovingly illustrated in marker pen as if into a secret notebook. The furniture featured among others an image of one of Pharrell’s favourite characters, SpongeBob SquarePants.
It is in moments of self-indulgent loopiness that Pharrell continues to be at his best. A colourful, curious nerd still thoroughly in touch with his childhood curiosity, he previously guest curated the This Is Not A Toy exhibition in Toronto, a partnership with Canada’s Design Exchange stemming from his keen amassing of collectible art toys, and featuring designs from the likes of Kaws and Frank Kozik.
His increasing number of collaborations with artist Takashi Murakami have led to some luscious work, including the remix and video for Last Night, Good Night, from the soundtrack of Murakami’s feature film Jellyfish Eyes. It’s gems like this that I’d love to see more of, as well as more of what was displayed on G I R L- the album: good, old-fashioned brilliance.
Watch Last Night, Good Night here: