Jonathan Anderson often looks to the arts when designing his collections, whether that be Rembrandt’s etched self-portrait appearing in the designer's JW Anderson S/S 23 menswear offering, or the artist installations at the centre of Loewe's runway shows, where Anderson is creative director, such as works by painter Julien Nguye and sculptor Lynda Benglis.
Back in 2017, the designer turned curator for the show Disobedient Bodies, which was a meditation on the human form. Anderson's fashion designs are sculptural art pieces in their own right with how they present surreal contemplations of the body.
Now, returning to the gallery space, Anderson's clothes will complement a selection of artworks curated by the Irish heavyweight in London.
Staged in the Offer Waterman Gallery in Mayfair, and opening shortly after the designer’s London fashion week show - one of the most anticipated on the schedule - On Foot is curated as a metaphorical walk round London, JW Anderson style.
Across four rooms, visitors are taken from 'The Street' to 'The Playground' via painting, drawing, sculpture and textile works. Swirling cityscape scenes such as crowded tube stations feature in the work of Frank Auerbach, L.S Lowry and Leon Kossoff, whilst the BMX handlebars Anderson attached to a red Breton top for his S/S 23 menswear show hang from the walls like a hunting souvenir.
Elsewhere, there are portraits by David Hockney, Lynette Diadem Boakye and Florian Krewer, and Anderson's lurex knitted bauble dresses take up the position of sculptures. On Foot also features one of the skateboard jumpers from the S/S 23 menswear show, bringing to mind the screeching wheels of a crowded Southbank or local skatepark.
In the third room, the infamous JW Anderson pigeon purses huddle together in a cupboard-like space, with a painting of a pigeon by Lucien Freud chirping nearby. The quirky accessory has been reworked for a limited edition collaboration with Anthea Hamilton, who Anderson recently worked with on costumes for an installation at Tate Britain.
Anderson's work, both on and off the catwalk, reflects the eccentric dichotomies of British culture. Just this weekend, he presented play-dough inspired tops and skirts alongside traditional trench coats for his S/S 24 collection. By bringing the great artists of our time into dialogue with the language of fashion, Anderson's latest exhibition asks us to consider that age old question: can fashion be art? The answer? They're the same and all at once, entirely differently.
JW Anderson at Offer Waterman
18 September – 28 October 2023
Open Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 – 18:00 (Saturdays until 17:00)