Fun House | Josh Lilley

This is definitely the first gallery exhibition I’ve been to that’s named after a 90s kid’s TV show. (If you don’t remember the essential after-school viewing for now-thirtysomethings ‘Fun House’ with Pat Sharp, this video should help you out.) But there’s not much to tie that “messy technicolour treat for kids”, as the show notes have it, to this rather sober collection. It’s a group show, and the artist in it that most stood out for me is American photographer Genevieve Gaignard, who I’d spotted at a previous exhibition at Stephen Friedman, and read about in this (excellent) New Yorker profile.

She’s a racially-ambiguous, suburban Cindy Sherman, who’s still on show up the road at Sprüth Magers. Both artists appear in disguise in their photos, trying on different personas as they go, stage-managing their own stories. But while Sherman has recently retreated into ironic 20s glamour, Gaignard is down home and direct. She appears in two forms at this show. First, there’s the unsettling stare of ‘Waiting’, a Floridian Mona Lisa in contrapposto pose, blazes out from the wall of the gallery.

Installation view

In a black beehive wig and a yellow top, she sits on a sickly yellowish chair. It’s a dark room, her face catching the light. You can’t help but look at her luscious, brightly-painted lips. Then you notice the beautiful formality of the pose, offset by the out-of-kilter framing: she’s shot from above and to the side. Elsewhere in the show is ‘Hidden Faces’, where Gaignard is a differently-attired suburban temptress, perhaps a proud homeowner, teetering on her lawn, her electric-blue beret perfectly matching her front door and shutters. A perfectly featureless lawn. This particular face is hidden, partly, by huge false eyelashes.

This is another definite hit for a gallery that’s been on a really strong run recently.

Fun House is at Josh Lilley (London). 5 July - 10 August 2018.