Opening:16 Sep, 2023
Professional visitors:16 Sep, 2023
Opening to public:16 Sep, 2023Artist/s involved:
- Robert Mapplethorpe
Robert Mapplethorpe was born in 1946 in Floral Park, New York. In the 1970s, Robert Mapplethorpe emerged as an artist in New York, coinciding with the rise of photography as fine art and the explosion of punk and gay cultures. Originally trained in painting and sculpture, he transitioned to photography, crafting erotic collages and later his own Polaroid images. His exhibitions featured erotic nudes, still lifes, and celebrity portraits using a large-format camera.
By the late 1970s, Mapplethorpe’s work adopted a style reminiscent of Helmut Newton and Man Ray. Mapplethorpe continued to explore explicit homoerotic themes, sparking debates on public funding for the visual arts during the contentious 1980s. Despite occasional color usage, Mapplethorpe favored black-and- white photography, using it to explore paradoxes and binary relationships.
In his works, he challenges conventional gender distinctions, blurring identity in self- portraits and collapsing dualisms through symbolic imagery. The development of his work over the last two decades of his life reveals a strong, consistent vision of reality, as he tried to unite opposites such as order and disorder, life and death, and man and woman while striving to find the perfect balance between form and content.
“I don’t like that particular word ‘shocking.’ I’m looking for the unexpected. I’m looking for things I’ve never seen before…I was in a position to take those pictures. I felt an obligation to do them.”
– Mapplethorpe, 1988
Mapplethorpe’s photographs are easily recognizable — the intimacy and sensuality in the subject matter and the delicacy with which they are shot; eroticism and vigor accentuated by sharp shadows so saturated they appear almost monochromatic; the push and pull between crossing limits and keeping boundaries; and finding the present through classically depicted figures.
This exhibition showcases the wingspan of the artist’s work through carefully selected dialogues inherent in the works. Underlying themes that unify nudes, portraits, flowers, and sculptures. There is a piece of Mapplethorpe’s essence in every shadow, every angle, and every deliberate inclusion or exclusion of what’s within the frame.