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Mark Humphrey holds first solo show at London’s Osborne Samuel Gallery

Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder, and the same must be true of art as a concept. Whether painting, sculpture, music, architecture or any other form of artistic expression, when it comes to audience reaction, there are almost always some who applaud and some who hiss. A case in point is Mark Humphrey’s first solo show, titled Art in Life, at the Osborne Samuel Gallery in London

Humphrey certainly provides some controversy within the world of art critics; he is known as a leading artist and designer whose creations are innovative and, depending on who you ask, imaginative and compelling or unbelievably tacky if not downright appalling.

According to a review on one art-related website, Humphrey “. . . explores the intrinsic bond between art and design. . .” and uses only the finest materials and most advanced technology to “. . . create statement pieces and heirlooms for future generations.”

Another review on another site offers a different opinion. In describing some of the works on display in his exhibition, this critic notes that each work is denoted by a sort of code. An object of questionable identity made of rock crystal and amber onyx, titled Romeo and Juliet, turns out to be a toilet paper holder – priced at £9,600.

Humphrey’s creation, called Sunflowers, is a sculpture made up of delicate glass layers that do, from a distance, look rather like sunflowers, but close up the viewer can make out the tiny spiralling images of humans copulating. The moral here might be: don’t get too close.

The fact that this artist relies on the most expensive materials it’s possible to obtain, and these ‘statement pieces’ cost much more than an arm or a leg if you wish to possess them is irrelevant, really. Great art is historically very expensive; the question is whether or not these works constitute great art.

To answer that, you’ll have to go see for yourself and make your own decision.

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