Russell Young: Superstar at the Halcyon Gallery
Art, like every other aspect of modern culture, is subject to the fashion of the day. Luckily for Russell Young, the current fashion appears to be pop art. His latest solo exhibition, Superstar, is another wonderful example of a genre that seems to be moving from strength to strength.
Superstar is described as an “exploration into the visual nature of fame and celebrity” and it certainly fulfils its promise. We know Young from his photography days, most notably from the picture that became the album cover of George Michael’s Faith, which was arguably one of the most iconic album covers of that decade. From humble beginnings in North Yorkshire, he moved to London and then the US, where he began to fully focus on his art in the year 2000. He describes how watching a film of Marilyn Monroe in his younger years in England motivated him to seek out new adventure in his later life. It was that sense of silver screen wonder, beautifully captured in this exhibition, which moved him to create the body of work that is currently on display at the Halcyon Gallery.
Taking inspiration from the great pop artists of the 60s and 70s, Young leans heavily on the screen printing process. Using the now infamous photo of Kate Moss by Kate Garner as a starting point, Young embellishes and manipulates the image to create an outstanding insight into what it means to be famous. Kate Moss, Superstar Triptych is the exhibition’s defining image and by adding diamond dust to his pieces, the sparkle and shine of Hollywood and fame are brought to life in front of our very eyes.
Young’s use of colour creates an atmosphere of 60s grandeur, with colours named Vegas and California Gold allowing us to briefly imagine those places at the time. This is not just a celebration of fame, however, but also a reminder of its lows. Marilyn Crying shows us the human side of celebrity; there’s no diamond dust here, just a girl with the world’s eyes upon her, showing us a brief moment of real emotion.
This exceptional body of work is displayed at the Halcyon gallery, where the directors have created a real sense of fame and celebrity to perfectly complement Young’s art. We are presented with a celebration of a period arguably started by Monroe and finished by Moss and this is undoubtedly one of the finest exhibitions of its kind.
Photos: Sophie Bluestone
Russell Young, Superstar is on at the Halcyon Gallery from the 21st January until 14th February, for further information visit here.