In Savile Row, the shop windows are full of male mannequins dressed in expensive clothes from summer blazers and trousers to top hat and tails. A short distance away, in Sackville Street, another group of men (and women) are hanging around, one – a Fisherman, stands on a first floor balcony in a thunderstorm as, London’s strange spring weather of thunder, lighting and torrential rain threatens to flood the place – perhaps he might even find some fish? But wait, he is fishing with a painting. Is this the bait, for unsuspecting prospective art collectors, or is this what he has found as he fished?
With his jeans, trainers and hooded jacket he looks suspiciously out of place here – perhaps he has links more with the rougher parts of London? Maybe he is the fish out of water? But, wait, through the windows of the Mayfair Georgian townhouse, there are more figures with jeans, trainers and hooded jackets over the heads.
American artist Mark Jenkins made headlines when he collaborated with the charity CALM to create the art installation Project84 to raise awareness for male suicide with 84 life-sized male sculptures on top of the ITV studio building.
His installations blur the lines between art and life, with his sculptures often interacting with their surrounding environment, as they do here, creating a sinister contrast with the elegant architecture of the Lazinc Gallery in Mayfair, in particular ‘Death by Flowers’ where the guillotine – a blade that is usually sharp and bright to make an efficient execution – has been replaced by another painting. What is Jenkins saying about the art market? Is he suggesting that at its most ruthless, it destroys people ? Or is the victim an artist whose work has fallen out of favour or has been damned by critics or totalitarian regimes?
As you walk around the gallery you almost expect the figures to come alive, while you can hear music in a far room playing Jenkin’s own compositions with titles such as ‘Hail Satan’ and ‘Lazer Blood’. In a previous era, he would have been composing a Wagnerian opera.
The more you explore, you more you can read into Jenkin’s critique and questions about modern society.