John Stezaker: Exhibition Review

John Stezaker at The Whitworth.

After first seeing his work whilst on a trip to Wellington, New Zealand, we were super excited for John Stezaker to come to Manchester.

This exhibition focuses on his Mask series, a selection of collages made from old actors/actresses headshots and film stills, together with antique postcards. The placement of these postcards on top of the photographs are perfect, lining up exactly with the images underneath, encouraging us to link human figures and shapes to the natural landscape. It could be as simple as a contour of an eyebrow, replaced by arches in a bridge (as in seen Mask XII 2005). Or a person’s hairline transforms into the branches of trees (Untitled 2016). Two totally unrelated images merge into a fascinating collage that forces us to view things in a different way, and isn’t that part of what art is about? To see things in a whole different way than we do on a day-to-day basis?

I also love his work which combines two film stills, overlaying scenes and distorting the figures. Not only does it create new images with new connections between the characters, but it also makes you question what used to be there? What has Stezaker removed? What has he changed? What is underneath these images that no longer exists? These images are as much about what you can see, as what you can’t.

John Stezaker is a British born artist and started exhibiting his work in the 1970s. He has held exhibitions all around the world including Paris, Sydney and Wellington back in August 2017. Combining old images to create new ones, John gives these forgotten photographs a new lease of life.

Whitworth Art Gallery says; ‘John Stezaker has spent his life as an artist finding or, as he says, being found by, these photographs… This slicing, mirroring, and overlaying makes new art from these photographs. We look at them again, and they are more than before.’ Combining old images to create new ones, John gives these forgotten photographs a new lease of life.

The exhibition launches today and is on till June 2018.

Whitworth Art Gallery is open every day 10am-5pm, and open till 9pm on Thursdays.

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