We’ve been big fans of painter, sculptor and video artist Mark Wallinger for a long time. We loved his recreation of peace campaigner Brian Haw’s anti war protest in Parliament Square, State Britain, which won Wallinger the Turner Prize in 2007. (Though at the time his piece Sleeper, a film of him walking around a deserted Berlin gallery dressed in a bear suit, nabbed most of the attention – and no wonder, as it too was a mesmerising work). His Ecce Homo, a statue of Christ, is also the most memorable and moving work to have so far graced Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth, which it did in 1999.
Most recently Wallinger has been commissioned by the National Gallery, along with artists Chris Ofili and Conrad Shawcross, to respond to three Titian paintings, Diana and Actaeon, The Death of Actaeon and Diana and Callisto, which depict stories from Ovid’s epic poem, Metamorphosis, and are on show together for the first time since the 18th Century. The three contemporary artists’ work are on display alongside the Titian masterpieces at the National Gallery until 23rd September, in an exhibition called Metamorphosis: Titian 2012, and so far it is Wallinger’s piece that has been getting the most press, namely because it has been reported that the Gallery’s guards are worried that his work – filmed pieces in which nude women recreate the paintings – are attracting “dirty old men” as well as genuine art lovers. Good luck to all of them, we say. So, for whatever reason, it seems time to rush down there, whether in your mac or not. Better still, why not go at lunchtime this Monday 23rd July, when Wallinger, always an interesting speaker with a great sense of humour, will be talking about his work for 45 minutes with the curator of the exhibition, Minna Moore Ede.