Monday 30 September 2019 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 30/9/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Robert Bound

Stirring the pot

Grayson Perry’s first commercial show for seven years, at London’s Victoria Miro gallery, is titled “Super Rich Interior Decoration”. It features the sort of witty vases that made the artist famous as well as wall-hangings, a rug and a selection of arch items – handbags, a yoga mat – that are a little easier on the pocket. From the vibrant colours and clever titles to the uncanny social commentary it’s all über-Grayson (come on, darling, it’s Frieze week and you always call living artists by their first name).

This time, however, Perry’s faultless crosshairs are trained on that biggest of contemporary art big game, the collectors themselves. “Thin Woman with Painting” is a vase featuring a cartoonish art maven stultified by a canvas; “Shopping for Meaning” features Perry in drag looking rich and Xanax’d-to-hell outside Bond Street boutiques; “Large Expensive Abstract Painting” is a tapestry emblazoned with “woke” buzzwords stitched to resemble that most treasured of contemporary art trophies, a Gerhard Richter abstract (this last work was designed to be an amalgam of dozens of tasteful and expensive paintings Perry found when googling “art collectors’ homes”).

Perry is a fine artist: he fires beautiful pots, draws well and mixes beauty with intellect and the decorative with the significant with the raw talent of few others. His work is important to see during this, London’s unofficial art week, because it comments on the commercial at the same time as being so, while Perry’s great gifts as a communicator send up the contemporary art world’s seriousness-for-cash and its flaccid critical muscle with gay abandon. Biting the hands that feeds him or just nuzzling a manicured mitt? Perry’s are pots with purpose indeed.

To hear more, tune in to Monocle on Culture, which airs this evening (London time) on Monocle 24.

Image: Getty Images

Politics / China & Hong Kong

Damned if she does...

Tomorrow marks 70 years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China but celebrations in Hong Kong will be of a lower profile than usual. In an effort to deflect attention from tensions between the Special Administrative Region and the mainland, Hong Kong’s customary firework display has been cancelled and its annual flag-raising ceremony will be watched via a live broadcast by a select group of 12,000 pro-Beijing invitees. But the mood in China’s capital will be anything but muted: an extravagant and highly choreographed parade is in the works. All eyes are on Carrie Lam as she decides whether to stay home to monitor protests or to stand by Xi Jinping’s side. It will likely be a lose-lose outcome for the embattled chief executive: her involvement – or lack of it – will anger those at home if she goes and those in Beijing if she doesn’t.

Image: Getty Images

Election / Portugal

Bucking the trend

Today marks the final week of campaigning ahead of Portugal’s election on Sunday. Currently the Socialist Party (PS) is polling at about 40 per cent, with the Social Democrats (PSD) following closely behind at 25 per cent.

Socialist prime minister António Costa is likely to nab a second term but it’s unclear whether he’ll get a clear majority. If not he’ll need to lean left and compromise with a coalition partner. Whatever the outcome, Portugal is a left-leaning outlier that’s keen on consensus: a rarity in a continent characterised by an increase in populist rhetoric and a lurch to the right.

Image: Getty Images

Business / California

Footing the bill

As California struggles to legislate and protect workers in the so-called gig economy, freelance journalists and publishers also stand to suffer thanks to a controversial new bill. The law signed by governor Gavin Newsom grabbed headlines for its implications on firms such as Uber and Lyft but it also affects how publishers work with writers, editors and photographers: limiting them to completing just 35 assignments a year for each title. This won’t affect big newsrooms with a decent budget but it leaves smaller media companies vulnerable and could hinder an editor’s capacity to select the right correspondent to tell a story. At a time when US media companies are branded enemies of the people by President Trump, it’s crucial that journalists and publishers are supported and protected.

Finance / Japan

Heavy levy

With Japan’s sales tax set to rise from 8 per cent to 10 per cent on 1 October, ordinary households are preparing to tighten their purse strings. That’s the finding of a survey, released last week, by the Tokyo-based think-tank Hakuhodo Institute of Life and Living. Hakuhodo predicted a drop in spending on leisure activities including dining out, haircuts and trips – similar to a pullback in 2014 when the government lifted consumption tax to 8 per cent, from 5 per cent. The timing is bad for restaurants and retailers whose earnings could suffer if the buyer mindset hasn’t changed by the year-end holidays. But officials see no cause for alarm just yet. Much depends on how quickly consumers bounce back from the sudden cost-of-living uptick.

Image: Shutterstock

M24 / The Foreign Desk

The Gulf after oil

Arab Gulf states owe much of their geo-strategic importance to fossil fuels. But even the most oil-soaked petro-kingdom knows that the wells will cease gushing eventually. If the Gulf becomes a centre of renewable energy, what will that mean for the region’s politics? Andrew Mueller is joined by Mehran Kamrava, Jim Krane and Caline Malek.

Film / France

Paris retail: La Grande Epicerie

The newly opened La Grande Epicerie on the Parisian rive droite celebrates the importance of physical retail. Monocle Films pays a visit to admire the heritage brands and tasty produce.


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