Tom Jeffreys discusses curation, Christianity, Victoria Miro and the state of contemporary art with controversial critic and first-time curator Brian Sewell.

It’s a good half-hour or so since I arrived at the Wimbledon home of legendary art critic Brian Sewell. Already we’ve discussed the V&A’s Postmodernism exhibition, the new Grayson Perry-curated show at the British Museum, and the editor of the Evening Standard (none of which Brian is very keen on) as well as Brian’s pet dogs, Pope Clement V, and the tale of Abraham the Jew in Boccaccio’s Decameron (about which he is much more enthusiastic). Of course, when I say “we’ve discussed”, I really mean that Brian has held forth, with that combination of mischief and brutal honesty that has made him both so loved and so reviled. All the while I sit mainly in silence and in awe, slightly amazed that I’ve been allowed into his home, and hoping not to say anything too stupid.

All of a sudden he turns to me. “So. Why are you here?” It’s not so much rude, as simply direct, and in that familiar, haughty voice, with all its painstakingly precise enunciation (Whay are hyou hyuh?). I have to admit I’m rather thrown.

So, why am I here? Well, because at the age of 80, Britain’s most forthright art critic is turning his hand to curation. Sewell, the Evening Standard’s art critic since 1984, is curating a solo show for contemporary artist Richard Harrison that opens to the public this October in the unusual surroundings of Jamb, an antiques dealership near to Sloane Square.

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