John Stezaker

Marriage LXXXI
Black & white photographics
28 x 21,3 cm and 27,3 x 20,6 cm
Unique pieces
Acquisition in 2013

2012

John Stezaker
Born in 1949 in Worcester (United Kingdom), John Stezaker lives and works in London.
He graduated from The Slade School of Art in 1973.
He is represented by the following galleries: The Approach (London) and Petzel Gallery (New York).

Statement
For about forty years, John Stezaker’s works have been characterized by a certain conceptual rigour and produce a powerful visual impact. Collect, cut and paste: the English artist’s practice is based on different, specific actions, inspired by modernity. Thus, by continuing to develop his artistic approach today through the medium of collage, John Stezaker fits into the historic tradition of surrealism and situationism, all the while maintaining a singular, almost ascetic language. Far from the quest for fantasy and the oneiric sought after by the modernist movement and beyond the didactic critique of the “Society of the Spectacle” which developed in the wake of May 68, John Stezaker produces a captivating and disturbing programmatic work, based on an exacting process of manipulating images. These images are recycled and originally come from archives and antiques markets. They are specifically chosen and their format is often recognizable: postcards of landscapes, portraits of actors and actresses and stills for the promotion of films from Hollywood’s Golden Age, press materials, etc.
The artist uses these old images, neglected and old-fashioned, as the material for his work and subjects them to an accurate, sometimes surprisingly simple yet efficient grammar, based on a combination of cuts and associations, so as to better examine their function and our view of them. Through each of his series, such as Masks, Film Stills, Tabula Rasa, or The 3rd Person Archive, different principles are implemented and developed, according to a paradoxical dialectic between destruction and creation. The altered figures and motifs represented have been subjected to the violence of the cutting process, in order to better reinvent themselves in the form of new and obvious motifs, in search of humanism and an emotional truth, going beyond the visible.

 Marriage XXXI, 2012
Put together using old photographic portraits of actors and actresses in black and white, the collages from the Marriage series, have an ironic effect of facial deconstruction. Carefully arranged, half of a man’s face is systematically superimposed onto a woman’s face so that the two figures, of the same scale, eventually form one face. However, the harmony of the features is accompanied by a disturbing impression of imbalance, an image shift. Thus, each new portrait produced becomes a caricature, male and female at the same time, amusing and strange. The combination effect is evocative of the cubist method (the first art movement to have made use of “collages”) and results in a sort of quasi-comical treaty on the couple, marriage and the notion of gender.