Francis Bacon and Henry Moore are two of the most famous English artists, yet they’re in two different universes when it comes to translating their view of the outside world into a form. Bacon paints strong feelings: the anger, the fear, the aggression and the emotions that deeply move people. While Moore recreates the human body using timeless shapes, bringing the spectator into a parallel world of balance and quiet.
So, what brings these two different artists together? That’s the question that this exhibition tries to answer, displaying various representations of the human body by contemporary artists inspired by these two legends. The topic is vast and the exhibition faces it with colourful and eclectic artworks integrated across two galleries. You get a sense of diversity from the first gallery where we find Catherine Opie’s grotesque photographs of men adorned with feminine clothes, an artificial man-shaped statue made of styrofoam by Tom Friedman and Yinka Shonibare’s mannequin with colourful clothes and a lamp in place of the head.
The second gallery hosts the most curious artwork of the exhibition: David Shrigley‘s installation ‘Life Model’. This is the artwork that the artist chose to display when he was nominated for the Turner Prize competition. Even though he didn’t win, he is an artist on the rise following his 2012 exhibition at the Hayward Gallery and cemented by his winning the Fourth Plinth Commission for 2016. He recreates a life drawing class experience but manages to demystify it: there’s no life model and the subject is absolutely disproportional and not beautiful by any standard. Also, the big statue blinks its eyes and pees in a bucket.
The great thing about this exhibition is that everyone is invited to take part in the ‘drawing class’: you can just sit down and draw the subject. You will probably feel awkward but you get a free drawing session!
Study From The Human Body is on display at the Stephen Friedman Gallery, 11 & 25-28 Old Burlington Street, W1S 3AN until 26 April. The gallery is open Tuesday-Friday 10am-6pm and Saturday 11am-5pm. Entrance is free.