Obesity is on the rise and it’s largely down to poor diets. Artist James Ostrer confronts this issue head on with his bright and sugary photographs. His models are covered in sugary sweets and snacks to form grotesque totems each with their own junk food theme ranging from ice cream through to hot dogs, from head shots to entire families posed encrusted with sugar.
The nudity, enlarged genitalia and onanism present in his photographs reference the heightened fetishisation of food and the sensuality often used in advertising to sell unhealthy foods. One sculpture resembling Mickey Mouse also links in to other parts of consumer culture where branding is just as strong.
But Ostrer’s strongest parallels are with religion. Most of his grotesque creations resemble primitive masks and sculptures associated with tribal religions. The strength of fast food brands has converted them into pseudo-temples, where desires can be realised.
Ostrer’s works are undoubtedly creative and eye-catching, and the piece at the front of the gallery across two floors means the show is hard to miss. Our difficulty with the works is that the hyper saturated colours give the pieces a certain pop art kitsch, which in itself is not a bad thing, but this instant visual appeal does mean the underlying message around the perils of junk food culture is diluted.
James Ostrer: Wotsit all about is on at Gazelli Art House, 39 Dover St, W1S 4NN is on until 11 September. Entrance is free.
For more art to see in London, check out our August listings.