Michael Jackson was the King of Pop. He was one of the most successful recording artists of all time. He was celebrated, persecuted, vilified and then resurrected.
He was also a bit of a mystery and enigma, which he at times played up to.
The latest exhibition ‘Michael Jackson On the Wall’ at the National Portrait Gallery brings together several artists work on MJ.
The exhibition is split into several parts focusing on Jacksons career and life. It starts at an A to Z of Michael and as you enter the room you are confronted with the the Dangerous Album cover – an album which to me was Jacksons most polished and expressive work – the album cover is quite a detailed view of Jacksons life and media and a great selfie opportunity for anyone interested in identifying with the album.
Each room then builds on works by Warhol, Kehinde Wiley (mimicking Rubens Phillip II on Horseback), Catherine Opie and Gary Hume to name a few. But it is perhaps the simple works that remain with you, for example Appau Junior Boakye-Yiadom’s shoes performing the ‘freeze’ held up by balloons is pretty good. While the three microphones asking ‘which Mike do you want to be like?’ (Reminds me of Jay-Z lyric on Ni**as In Paris – ‘Take your pick Jackson, Tyson, Jordan’) is an interesting concept – with the mikes set too high for your average person to reach.
But perhaps the funniest and engaging piece comes from Candice Breitz, who filmed fans singing the whole Thriller album – acapella – in front of a camera, with each performance placed side by side for all to see and (unfortunately) hear, I did feel like Simon Cowell but my feedback was to no avail.
Overall the exhibition is quite disjointed, but this is because there are several artists portraying their views and interpretations of Jackson, but ultimately the world never really knew who Jackson was, he had a unique upbringing and media attention and of course genius and talent, which is probably the reason why we are still fascinated by him, catch the show while you still can and determine your own view of the King of Pop.