Chichester Oxmarket Gallery remembers one of the Beat Generation’s foremost writer-artists


The Corso exhibition presents major visual works, including his famous silent graphic novels
The Corso exhibition presents major visual works, including his famous silent graphic novels

Gregory Corso’s work will be on display at the Oxmarket Gallery in Chichester from Tuesday September 21 to Wednesday October 3. Organized by the University of Chichester, the exhibition features original works from the 1950s and 1960s, including his famous silent graphic novels.

The exhibition was produced by Professor Dick Ellis and Professor Hugo Frey, of the university. As Hugo says, the exhibition positions Corso (March 26, 1930 – January 17, 2001) as a perennial artist, producing traditional drawings, illustrations, paintings and more experimental interventions in the space where text and image meet. The show comes in the year of the 20th anniversary of Corso’s death.

“Corso was not an artist by training, but his highly productive imagination led him to develop, at his best, an appealing ease, particularly in his sketches, cartoons and assemblages, as he explored a wide variety of styles and artistic approaches.

“Some of them were experimental in nature. For example, he even explored the potential of comics and graphic stories. His influences were fertile in their range, but French designers, like Siné, turned out to be particular influences.

The exhibition is the first European solo exhibition of original works by Corso since the Beats show collection in Paris in 2016: “It brings together for the first time the poetic and visual productions of Corso, showing how he was an accomplished creator in a very wide range of genres, poetic and visual.

“It should be noted that his accomplishments were uneven because, as a drug addict and alcoholic, he constantly needed money to nurture his habits and often produced work to ensure a quick cash sale. But even here, very often, he produced works with an often endearing lightness of touch. “

Hugo said the show comes as Corso starts to get a bit more referencing, particularly in a song from Bob Dylan’s latest album.

“I think the problem with Corso’s reputation was that part of what he was doing was quite contemporary and political. He was writing about contemporary politics which obviously seemed very relevant at the time, but time goes by and the political context changes as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg are perhaps people with a wider range of universal themes related to youth. American. Corso has also produced a tremendous amount of work. Some of them are relatively canonical, but other elements are not. But the exhibition at the Center Pompidou in Paris five years ago helped revive its name: “It was the least known of the Beats, the third behind Kerouac and Ginsberg, but this mixture of poetry, politics and visual culture is fascinating.

Dick Ellis added: “Corso was not the only Beat writer to look to other creative genres. Many other figures in the Beat movement have turned to the visual arts to complement their poetic productions – as part of their commitment to experimentally breaking boundaries across all creative genres.

The Funtington Players also collaborated on the exhibition with a collective reading which will be a video installation at the Corso lounge.


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