Controversial Danish artist causes a stir in Islington

PUBLISHED: 16:20 23 March 2011

Kristian von Hornsleth at the Playtime Gallery & Bar

Kristian von Hornsleth at the Playtime Gallery & Bar


A CONTROVERSIAL artist from Denmark is holding his first UK exhibition in an Islington bar as he seeks to break Britain.

Kristian von Hornsleth (above) has covered every inch of the walls at the Playtime Gallery & Bar in Islington Green with 220 of his striking artworks.

The 47-year-old conceptual artist, who has moved to London from Copenhagen, where he is a notorious figure in the art world, says the bar has already faced problems because of the contentious nature of the exhibition.

He said: “It has created a bit of a stir. Some club promoters have refused to do their bookings and some of the pieces have been censored by the management.”

The censored works include an image of the Pope and a photo of a warplane emblazoned with the words “rape, kill, steal, burn”.

Hornsleth said: “The manager was afraid of the reaction to the images – but there are a few still there that they have not found!”

He describes the exhibition, which runs until May, as being a reaction to the flood of terrible images presented by the media. “It’s a cry back at all this information,” he said. “It’s a storm of images. It’s like looking at 200 people shouting at you.”

He is no stranger to controversy. His past work includes The Hornsleth Village Project Uganda, which saw him persuade more than 300 Ugandan villagers to legally change their names to Hornsleth, paying them with a pig or a goat – and outraging the Ugandan government in the process.

For his project The Hornsleth Arms Investment Corporation, he set up a company that invests in weapons manufacturers – the shares of which are 100 of his works. If a collector buys one, their money is invested in the arms industry. He said: “The idea is to investigate the gap between what is ethically possible and what legally possible.”

Robert Blake, the general manager at Playtime, said: “He’s very controversial, but at the same time what he says is the truth. I don’t really like to censor work – it’s an artist’s freedom of expression. But some of it I had to! What’s OK for Denmark is not necessarily the same for London.

“He’s maybe too much in your face for some, but he touches quite a lot of people. He’s just trying to make people more aware of what’s going on around them.”

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