British-American contemporary artist Russell Young (b. 1959) is best known for his compelling, larger-than-life silkscreen paintings of cultural icons. This exhibition presents the artist’s work spanning the last two decades, portraying Liz Taylor, James Dean and Bob Dylan alongside political giants John and Jackie Kennedy and showing how Young absorbs, processes and re-contextualizes the imagery of popular culture from the second half of the twentieth century onwards.
This exhibition using ‘Superstar’ as a concept focuses on the exhibition experience, trying to define the essence of what truly makes a ‘superstar’ and interpret the process of creating a superstar. By presenting screen-printed reproductions of celebrity police mugshots, Young has stripped away their invincible pop status and replaced it with a more human identity, fracturing the conventional celebrity portrait and acknowledging the human beneath the icon, that popular culture often veils.
Young also adds a sense of glamour and opulence through his use of diamond dust. The shimmering texture of this method provides literal glamour, yet the cheap, mass-produced material used to create the illusion of the ultimate symbol of wealth conforms perfectly to Young’s main exploration in this series: the painful reality of celebrity hidden behind the glamour.