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Exhibition: Art School Stole My Virginity

Sex show lacks real penetration

Art School Stole My Virginity

Vyner Street Gallery,London E2

2 Stars

I was fortunate to get into Clayton Pettet's much-hyped performance on April 1 and it certainly fooled anyone expecting a live sex show, as all the preceeding hype suggested.

Instead, it was the skilfully executed culmination of months of high-profile publicity. Perhaps that was the intention because the only penetration was made with a lot of bananas being sucked.

Clayton says his performance was a rejection of established ideas about virginity and sexuality and an assertion of his right to his own definitions. In that he succeeded but his paintings and other artworks are reminiscent of the comic art tradition used by anarchists and radicals in the good old days of the late '60s and '70s. They're perhaps unknown to today's youth but they're based on the same in-your-face, crude and explicit imagery as runs through Clayton's totally sex-act-obsessed art.

He's achieved the level of recognition he hoped for and has the technical skill but there's a question over how Pettet's art will develop - there's a limit to the number of sexy self-portraits an artist can promote.

He wants to challenge what he sees as an oppressive, second-rate and exclusionary modern art world yet he will need to do more than this to achieve that. But good luck to him.

Peter Purton


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