Art thats certainly in your face!
By Pamela Lee
“I think there are things that need to be changed about this world. And the first time I started becoming excited by art it was the art of propaganda: the idea of photography with a message, photography that was saying something. With this exhibition that’s what we’re really trying to ignite and bring to the forefront: art that speaks a message, art that is loud, art that is provocative.” – Nick Knight
In Your Face…
In Your Face is the latest exhibition staged in the SHOWstudio shop space at Bruton Place off Oxford Street, running until 4th February 2012. As the typical of the work of SHOWstudio and artists associated with it, this is a body of work filled with messages, dialog and potential for interpretation. SHOWstudio is the very forefront of fashion and art collaborations and this is an art exhibition creating an eerie blur of the two faculties.
Nick Knight references propoganda, which immediately suggests provocative visual messages and that is certainly the case in this exhibition. This source of inspiration seems coincidentally timely in light of the prevalent footage from North Korea in the News at the moment.
Every piece exhibited is powerful with it’s own message yet they seem to speak together as well Entering the room you are confronted by Alberto Korda’s contact sheet Che Guevara images, arguably one the most iconic and provoking faces in the history of propaganda.
As you step in further you see the centerpiece to the exhibition – the somewhat agitating sight of a figure bound to a chair, feet fastened to the legs; hands pulled to the back and a sack cover the head. This is metaphorical for the dark tone of all the work on display – what I felt was a comment on the slightly tortuous side to the anonymous and ceaseless pursuit of perfection within the world of fashion imagery. Fittingly, the face of the figure is covered, an abrupt contrast to the copious and disparate range of representations of the face on the walls all around.
Certainly this an assailing starting point and centre piece to an exhibition, akin to some of the art on the walls. The manifold messages they express scream of bodily distortion, self-loathing and anatomical experimentation.
Douglas Gordan’s Self Portrait of You and Me shows David Bowie’s face blazed through the eyes and mouth with burn marks, and Tim Shaw’s Pseudo Male prints depict torso’s divided up with markings anticipating numerous silicone implants.
These are profound directives, but with or without them the exhibition is highly commendable as a collection of genuinely beautiful pieces of art. The space itself is quaint and welcoming and it is a chance to see some pieces produced by some of the finest contemporary artists such as Nick Knight himself, icons like Alexander McQueen in an array of classic and experimental mediums.