The Gallery, Liverpool
Presented by DuoVision and Liverpool Pride
16/12 – 14/01
Glamour – the beauty and horror of celebrity explored in new exhibition
The first major solo exhibition of artist Ben Youdan opens at The Gallery, Liverpool. ‘Glamour’ features new and unseen work by the Liverpool based artist, exploring the iconography of glamour and celebrity, the glitz and seedier underbelly of fame and notoriety.
With work currently on display at the Museum of Liverpool, part of the ‘Tales from the City’ exhibition, ‘Glamour’ represents a major milestone in Youdan’s career. The exhibition is two years in the making. The work is simultaneously a celebration and a critique – examining how there is a duality to glamour as on the surface it can appear seductive, appealing and beguiling but is often underpinned with an inherent dark sensibility .
Distinguishing between ‘Glamour’ and ‘Beauty in a media saturated world it is now impossible to see where one ends and the other begins, the mixed media artworks play on iconography. Eye-catching and vivid, the works focus on the face using collage to highlight the grittier side of Hollywood life, using mixed materials and images to challenge the established norm of the “makeup” of celebrity.
“The artifice has become an aspiration thanks to the tabloids, newsfeeds and television, but this illusion is sold to us by the same corporations who glamorise death and murder to sell papers, to bait clicks: Myra Hindley is as much a blond bombshell as Marilyn Monroe. The media age in which we live is as equally compelling as it is confusing and the messages contained within it are conflicting but seductive.
There is a particular relationship with glamour that queer people have that is fascinating. Queer people use glamour as a form of self-expression but also as a means of escape. It can manifest itself within the fabric of our lives from the idolisation of stars to the clothes we wear ourselves.
Death has its own glamour and adds to the mythology of the icon. We love a tragic end to a glamorous life – to feel heartbreak and pity and elevate the dead from celebrity to martyr. But alongside the fallen idols, images of real life horror and tragedy are sold as a commodity. Scroll through your social media timeline of choice and you will be sold the artifice of a Kardashian and the horror of genocide in one screenshot. I believe that by combining these contrasting images we reveal something intimate about our collective psyche.
The work is intended to make a statement about the human condition in the context of the new media age.”