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Image:Black Rose (2011) – Portrait of Louise Brooks Ink, dye & bleaching technique on heavy-weight vintage woven botanical fabric
25th May until Sun 29th May
‘Beautiful and Damned’ marks Pam Glew’s third solo show in London and her first with Mauger Modern Art.
The week long pop up at Blackall Studios in Shoreditch will show a new body of large-scale work on vintage and antique fabrics and two small editions in aluminum.
The work features beautiful movie starlets, society icons and characters from the roaring 20s, silent movies and the golden age of cinema. The fabric-based portraits are the result of a deconstruction, dying, and repeated-bleaching process. It is the first series of work where the artist has incorporated found antique materials from the same period. There will also be rare and limited edition prints not previously seen on display. The iconic portraits include such characters as Charlie Chaplin, Bette Davis and Louise Brooks, who define the true spirit of the age.
Fabric can be abandoned and simply left as scraps or it can be gloriously displayed, mounted in a cabinet at the V&A perhaps. Fabric in art can honour both these extremes. For example, the found fabrics that the artistic duo Guerra and De la Paz use in their garment installation ‘Nine’ symbolised how yesterday’s fads become disowned memories placing a heavy burden on civilization. Christian Boltanski’s ‘Reserve’ echoed the Nazi warehouses; his use of clothes was merely an emblem of death, people lost their lives but their garments were left in piles. Glew’s pieces incorporate both memories and death. Glew’s vintage fabric portraits are everlasting and are exhibited beautifully – the faces memorable and unforgettable but their expressions disturbing. Her art’s subject matter not only reminds us of the characters’ departure from the limelight but also reveals their human qualities and their inevitable mortality. The icons’ memories are eerily imprinted into the fabric and as they are forever imprinted in the threads of history. The Internet’s complex technical memory is eternal and may be able to store all the facts but Glew’s densely woven pieces can restore an element of the characters’ souls.
Take Glew’s ‘Flapper’, a portrait of the silent movie star Clara Bow. She
stares at you, her eyes full of melancholy. You may know Clara as the starlet
whom the movie investors and viewers were fanatical about, you may know
her as the icon who prompted Anna Wintour to never change her haircut
but Glew reminds us of her traumatic life. Her psychotic mother threatened
her with a butcher knife when she found out she was set for a movie career
and that in 1944 Bow herself tried to commit suicide and was treated with
electroshock therapy for chronic insomnia and schizophrenia This is just one
intriguing snippet of social history woven into ‘Beautiful and Damned’. As Pam
states “the tragedy amongst the beauty is what has inspired this show, the
sharp contrast between a blessed life and one that ends in scandal, hedonism
or destitution”. A show that captures an extraordinarily decadent era drenched
in glamour yet tinged with tragedy – it is an absolute must-treasure exhibition!
Tory Turk for FAD
(10am – 6pm) at Blackall Studios • 73 Leonard Street • London • EC2A 4QS – Late night opening Thurs 26th May