‘I am dedicated to fascination – to image fascination, a fascination for the point at which the image becomes self-enclosed and autonomous. It does so through a series of processes of disjunction.’
John Stezaker is a British conceptual artist working mostly in the field of collage. The excellent exhibition in Whitechapel Gallery is his first major solo retrospective, yet he has been manipulating photographs for the past four decades. Stezaker works mostly using classic movie stills, vintage postcards and illustrations.
His collages at first glance seem effortless (very often it’s a postcard pasted onto an old photograph), but closer look reveals an incredible precision with which he chooses two pictures to fit perfectly together (the collages are made manually without digital manipulation). Also carefully selected titles intensify the poetic meaning of the artworks.
My favourite works are the Marriage and the Film Portrait series, in which the artist creates the Frankenstein-like impressions simply by fusion of two halfs of different portraits together (usually male and female). Stezaker acts here as some mad plastic surgeon, who with a single cut of the blade constructs these often creepy, yet somehow beautiful hybrids. The hand of the same ‘maniac’ could also be seen in the Love and the Blind series, where the artist enhances the eyes of his female subjects by giving them the hypnotic ‘double vision’, while taking away the visual perception from the males.
The artist is represented by the Approach Gallery.