Art and Music      
Christopher Ward London


Popped at Imitate Modern

"Popped" is a group show featuring seven international and London based artists. Each work is informed by, or comments on aspects of celebrity culture and lifestyle.

In his brightly coloured paintings, Amar Stewart explores aspects of pop culture from Hip-Hop to Rock n’ Roll through iconic faces. The paintings on show at Imitate Modern depict Jay-Z and [David Bowie's] Ziggy Stardust, executed in oil with delicate brush strokes combining a realist style against areas of blurry abstraction that give the fleeting feeling of a camera shutter closing.

Filling the main wall of the gallery space are a selection from Tyler Shields’ mutilated Birkin bag series -large scale photographs that literally deconstruct the ultimate female celebrity accessory. Shields is best known as a celebrity photographer, which is evident in the dynamic shots. These photographs refuse to pay homage or suck up to the statement Birkin bag (designed by Hermès for singer and actress Jane Birkin, now favoured by the likes of Alexa Chung) and instead do the unthinkable - rip it apart.  These photographs have an echo of 70s performance art - updated for our brand obsessed times - documenting the destruction of an icon in order to make an equally desirable art work from it.

Elsewhere Day-z’s critique on branding is more subtle as she effortlessly overlaps famous faces with logos; injecting humour whilst commenting on the notion of ubiquitous branding. There is an inherent skill evident in her drawings -as she depicts a sullen Charlie Chaplin sitting on the Channel logo almost as if it were the Hollywood sign itself. Her drawing of Snow White portrays the Disney princess holding the 'poisoned apple' but, is pictured here as the ubiquitous Apple logo with a pair of ipod earphones plugged into it. Day-z makes an astute association between notions of branding being so recognisable that they can be inserted into any setting, alongside the very idea of material temptation and seduction.   

While notions of celebrity have been prevalent in contemporary art for a long time from Andy Warhols 60s prints to Elizabeth Peyton's dreamy small scale paintings, Popped offers an interesting round up of artists currently looking for new interpretations. The artists work shows how celebrity culture can permeate into collective memory and throughout the exhibition hang potent reminders of who, and what continue to be idolised.


Alexis Jourrou



Popped is at Imitate Modern until September 21st. 

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