Death is a popular subject in art, just look at Damien Hirst’s retrospective. SHOWstudio is better known for its links to the fashion industry but in its shop three artists have all created one piece each to explore the inevitability of dying.
The largest work is the Gao brothers’ ‘The Execution of Christ’, where several replicas of Chairman Mao prepare to execute Christ. It’s an unsubtle reference to Mao’s oppression of Christianity and also a reference to the artists’ father who was executed during the Cultural Revolution. They’ve done an excellent job of basing the poses on Manet’s ‘The Execution of the Emperor Maximillian’, as this was another event that sent shockwaves through Europe. The statues are bronze except for the steel bayonets, a clever allegory for the spear that ended Christ’s life.
Claire Morgan has clearly been inspired by Hirst, as she uses dead bluebottle flies in her work. They’re delicately hung from the ceiling to create a macabre geometric pattern that highlights the uniformity of death. The increase in density of flies toward the centre of the square draws you in to her work.
The final work by Nick Knight is a wax sculpture depicting Kate Moss as an angel but when we visited, the wax sculpture had succumbed to the heat and was being repaired so we didn’t get a chance to see it.
None of this work is subtle nor do the artists explore new themes, but the pieces do grab your attention and make you want to see other creations by these artists.
Death is on at the shop in SHOWstudio, 1-9 Bruton Place, W1J 6LT until 31 August. Admission is free.