Haven’t really decided what to think about these works from Russell Young, really not going to decide what to think until we get to stand in front of them and see the pieces in the flesh rather than as small on-line flat screen digital images. Art really needs to be seen in the flesh, on-line viewing is at best a poor substitute and the prospect of this show and images that are already rather familiar is intriguing enough to make another visit to the rather plush New Bond Street gallery necessary. Do we need to see another Marilyn? Or for that matter a Kate? Do we need to go to this show? Is there a point? Surely there must be a point? Watch this space, here’s what the gallery has to say about things ahead of Thursday’s opening night….
Russell Young, Superstar at Halcyon
21 Jan 2016 to14 Feb 2016
“Superstar is the debut solo exhibition by celebrated British-American Pop artist Russell Young, at Halcyon Gallery. This brand new body of work is part of an ongoing exploration into the visual nature of fame and celebrity, as Young attempts to define the essence of what truly makes a ‘superstar’. With his trademark vividly-coloured, larger-than-life canvases, Young reinterprets iconic imagery featuring two of popular cultures most famous faces: contemporary catwalk heroine, Kate Moss and modern screen siren, Marilyn Monroe.
The exhibition features a controversial photograph of Kate Moss, first published in British Vogue in early 1990, capturing the Croydon-born supermodel aged just sixteen. Taken by British photographer Kate Garner at the cusp of the nineties, this photograph reflects the very beginning of Moss’s stellar career. By embellishing and expanding upon the outtakes, Young weaves the image into his continuing exploration of the fragile nature of celebrity and its impact on both society at large and our shared internal psyche. Whilst the original image presents a natural innocence and beauty, it is through Young’s manipulation that these paintings are elevated, transcending the restrictions of their original source material and providing a unique and very personal body of work which pays a powerful homage to one of our generation’s most celebrated icons.
Alongside the images of Kate Moss is Marilyn Monroe, whose instantly-recognisable features are rendered in both opulent platinum and dazzling gold and imbued with a sense of nostalgia and celebration. Following a decade of austerity in the United States, emerging from the Wall Street Crash and the ensuing Great Depression, Monroe’s rise to fame came to represent a new era of optimism that helped revive the spirits of a nation with her much publicised and often tumultuous love life, reflecting the cultural appetite of the age. Presidents, sporting heroes and writers all fell under her spell, but it was her inherent vulnerability and untimely death that maintains Monroe’s status as the first true superstar. These works set out to serve as both a celebration and an epitaph to the Great American Dream.
If Marilyn represents the beginning of a journey into the notion of what defines a superstar, then Kate must surely represent its closing chapter: these two icons of unparalleled global recognition, born five decades apart, both encapsulate the true meaning of what it is to be a superstar”.
Halcyon Gallery is at 144-146 New Bond Street, London, W1S 2PF