Rick Guest: What Lies Beneath at the Hospital Club
Walking into the Hospital Club Gallery, the viewer is greeted by the cold intensity of ballet dancers at the peak of their game in a series of gorgeous portraits that line the walls. The exhibition What Lies Beneath overwhelms you with a stripped bare idealism of a human pinnacle. Rick Guest, the photographer, is able to evoke a sense of the dancers’ emotions, competitiveness, artistic capabilities and athleticism.
Pictured in a voyeuristic twist on the traditional ballet photo, some of the subjects are seen flying through the air or holding impossible poses, but without makeup or costume. Instead, the ripped, loose and dingy clothing offers the viewer a crack in the perfection of these artists. All muscle, sinew and tendon, they present a sportsman’s dream merged with longing and defiance.
Often shown atypically, standing upright for example, the subjects display their ability to tap into an emotional well that washes over the viewer. The costuming is bare and worn through with use. The dancers were photographed in their practice clothes and through some hive-mentality collaboration between all the ballerinas and Guest, a pleasing color scheme of cloth clinging to the almost naked bodies emerges. The artistic vision involved combines with the dancers’ daily lives and produces a cohesive yet tattered wardrobe that is seemingly planned.
This exhibition is excellent and is presented in a wonderful space. Each stunning photograph could easily occupy a room of its own and with them all together the gallery seems full to bursting. Every model seems to want to outdo their comrades, reflecting the competitive nature of these expert performers. Most of the subjects have interesting stories behind them. Edward Watson, for example, has been working with Guest for several years and is the oldest of the dancers by far. Another character is the magnificent Sergei Polunin, whose aerial crucifix pose bares his self-made scars and unconventional tattoos. The variety and cohesion of this exhibit makes it well worth a visit, either for artistic inspiration or to simply bask in the glory of the perfect fusion of artist and athlete.
What Lies Beneath is on at the Hospital Club Gallery from 22nd January until 31st January 2016, for more information or to book visit here.