Friday, 11 March 2011


John Stezaker was unknown to me until yesterday when a kind reader (Mr. Vic Templar from Stamford Hill) nodded in the direction of the Whitechapel Gallery where I spent this afternoon. Although I prefer a greater degree of randomness (genuine or otherwise) to careful choices and positioning, his work is certainly interesting and worth investigating. The gallery’s own gumpf describes it far better than I could, so – in collage style – I’ll cut and paste it here.

“British artist John Stezaker is fascinated by the lure of images. Taking classic movie stills, vintage postcards and book illustrations, Stezaker makes collages to give old images a new meaning. By adjusting, inverting and slicing separate pictures together to create unique new works of art, Stezaker explores the subversive force of found images. Stezaker’s famous Mask series fuses the profiles of glamorous sitters with caves, hamlets, or waterfalls, making for images of eerie beauty.

His ‘Dark Star’ series turns publicity portraits into cut-out silhouettes, creating an ambiguous presence in the place of the absent celebrity. Stezaker’s way of giving old images a new context reaches its height in the found images of his Third Person Archive: the artist has removed delicate, haunting figures from the margins of obsolete travel illustrations. Presented as images on their own, they now take the centre stage of our attention

This first major exhibition of John Stezaker offers a chance to see work by an artist whose subject is the power in the act of looking itself. With over 90 works from the 1970s to today, the artist reveals the subversive force of images, reflecting on how visual language can create new meaning.”

John Stezaker exhibition is at the Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, London, E1 7QX, until 18 March 2011, admission free.

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