Friedrich Petzel Gallery is pleased to present The Bridge, a new exhibition of collages by John Stezaker.
Stezaker has been highly influential in the key artistic developments of the last three decades, from Conceptual Art, New Image Art through to the re-emergence of collage. As a leading figure of the British conceptual art group, Stezaker showed in the first Hayward Annual of 1972 called ‘The New Art’, but his conceptual interests soon gave way to what can now be seen as a long-term fascination with the image. Using found photographs and printed material, Stezaker involves various techniques in these collages, such as removals, maskings, reparations, rotations and visual concordances. While juxtaposing disparate sources his work creates compelling new images, relationships and characters.
Stezaker’s recent ‘Bridge’ works evolved from a series of topographical collages that began in the late ‘80’s, involving combinations and inversions of the upper parts of cityscape images across a diagonal divide to create precarious bridge-like spaces. The source images are tourist books of Prague and its castle from the 1940’s to 60’s, collected originally by Stezaker because of his interest in the world of Kafka’s castle. The uncanny dream-like spaces evoked in these pictorial bridges have become more ominous and ambiguous in the most recent collages; their world seems more imminently endangered. They share with his better-known film portrait collages (also on view) a fascination with the fragility of the photographic illusion.
The portrait collages, which he describes as ‘marriages’ of different personae (often different sexes), create a site for the viewer’s participation in the making and the unmaking of imaginary identities.
The ‘bridge’ and the ‘marriage’ are Stezaker’s metaphors for the collage process itself: a bringing of worlds together or a binding of the separated. Stezaker’s collage is both a process of image violation and of reparation, an act that suspends the image on the edge between its transparent legibility and its mysterious opacity.
This is John Stezaker’s first solo exhibition at Friedrich Petzel Gallery in New York. Other recent solo shows include: ‘Mask and Shadow’ at the A Palazzo Gallery in Brescia, Italy (2008); John Stezaker ‘New Work’ at Galerie Dennis Kimmerich, Düsseldorf, Germany (2008); ‘Fumetti’ at GAK in Bremen, Germany (2008); A two part show: ‘Marriage’, Karsten Schubert, London and ‘Mask’, The Approach W1, London (2007); The Rubell Family Collection, Miami (2007); Stills Gallery, Edinburgh (2007); Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool (2007); Project Room, Yvon Lambert, Paris (2007).