Michael Jackson art show opens in Finland despite controversy - GulfToday

Michael Jackson art show opens in Finland despite controversy

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Artist Paul McCarthy's artwork is pictured at the media event for Michael Jackson: On the Wall - art exhibition in Espoo.

An exhibition of art inspired by Michael Jackson opened Tuesday in Helsinki with organisers insisting it was not a "celebration" of the singer, still dogged by abuse allegations a decade after his death.

"Michael Jackson: On the Wall" brings together old and new works depicting the iconic pop star and his impact on popular culture, by artists including Andy Warhol, American photographer David LaChapelle and British potter Grayson Perry.

"This exhibition and these artists are not celebrating Michael Jackson, but analysing his meaning in our culture.

The show of 90 works first hung in London's National Portrait Gallery in 2018 to widespread critical acclaim. It then toured in Paris and Bonn before coming to Helsinki.

Finding Neverland

The German and Finnish shows come after a new raft of allegations that Jackson groomed and sexually assaulted children, detailed in the 2018 documentary "Finding Neverland".

The exhibition will nevertheless run in the Finnish capital "as planned", organisers said, with a text at the entrance acknowledging that "current conversations may have changed the way the exhibition is interpreted".

"We can't shy away from these difficult subjects and we of course condemn all kinds of abuse," Arja Miller, chief curator at Espoo Museum of Modern Art, told AFP.

Sponsors scared away

Many of the Jackson-inspired works veer between the gaudy and the grotesque, including an oversized golden statue of the megastar with his pet chimpanzee, Bubbles, by Paul McCarthy.

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Artworks inspired by Michael Jackson hang on the wall at the media event for Michael Jackson: On the Wall.

Elsewhere, a life-size portrait by Kehinde Wiley, commissioned by Jackson himself shortly before his death in 2009, features the star in jewelled armour on horseback surrounded by cherubs, after a portrait by Rubens of King Philip II of Spain.

The Romanian artist Dan Mihaltianu's installation draws on the impact of Jackson's seminal 1992 concert in post-Communist Bucharest, using newspaper photos alongside concert footage.

Agence France-Presse

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