The curious images of John Stezaker
Like many collage artists before him, John Stezaker is fascinated by what happens when you bring together images to create unexpected meanings. Edwardian postcards, black and white images of classic movie stars and found vintage photographs are sliced, overlapped and collaged in new and intriguing ways.
Stezaker is an established British photographer and artist, who teaches at the Royal College of Art but for whatever reason doesn’t exhibit very often. The Whitechapel Gallery in East London will be holding his first major exhibition of his work between 29 January – 18 March 2011.
His work is both unsettling and humorous. He juxtaposes images to create ambiguous and surreal meanings that come together in the mind, in a similar way to when elements of a joke collide to make us laugh.
Placing a tourist postcard of a deep river gorge over the faces of a couple having a romantic moment shouldn’t work – but somehow it does. The sides of the ravine stand in for their faces while the postcard starts to hint that the chasm and river might have deeper emotional metaphors for the couple.
Like Hannah Höch, the German photomontage artist involved in the Dadaist art movement, John Stezaker limits himself to black and white, sepia and muted colours to visually hold his images together, and like Höch there’s also a very playful sense of portraiture in creating new identities by merging different faces together.
If you’re a regular browser of blogs, like myself, then you’ll have probably seen there’s been a renewed interest in collage and photo-montage recently. Maybe it’s because it’s easier now than ever before to combine digital images together, so perhaps we simply love to see visual jokes laid out in front of us?