exhibition & book launch celebrating 20 years of portraiture on the artist Marc Almond
EXHIBITION: SATURDAY 17TH – SATURDAY 24TH FEBRUARY, WED – SAT, 12 – 6PM
PRIVATE VIEW: FRIDAY 16th FEBRUARY, 6 - 9PM
Jamie Mcleod unveils his latest London exhibition coinciding with a book launch, celebrating 20 years of his avant-garde portraits of the extravagant performer Marc Almond.
The exhibition and the book entitled “I CREATED ME” (Published by Timeless, 2017) contains largely unseen photos from McLeod's 20-year archive. Creating new shape shifting images with Almond as both his muse and patron, working together to invent both commercial images for product, promotion, stage-wear, and for backdrops. For this show McLeod focus’s on reworking rare and obscure images, what he calls his ‘B-sides’, the risqué, film noir and even the vamp side to Almond’s other more sedate and respectable image.
McLeod spent a year spicing up both new and old imagery to create these cinematic like cameos for Almond to role-play and to meta-morph within the time lapsed frame.
McLeod says “it felt like 20 years of work in the theatre behind a red velvet curtain with a rabbit and a top hat making magic. Always trying to make something other than the fake, tedious, and derivative. We both work real quick and we both have a form of attention deficit disorder so if it doesn’t gel and resonate quick, we just move swiftly on”. This work is what McLeod calls his mini-operettas, the arena where Almond can invent other personas and narratives outside of the commercial pop product. I painted and inked up the image by hand, I cut and pasted like a butcher, I defiled and corrupted it. I spoilt a lot of my more ‘pop’ styled pretty pictures to create art, rather than present plain old narcissistic and banal pop trivia. We did this via the studio setting and on the street, in urban locations Almond was most synonymous with, like his beloved Soho. There are exotic mug shots and masks, with gunshots and poetry, drenched in voodoo and varieté, evocative images reeking of glamour but soiled with evil. “My images take a certain reference to abstract painting, jazz, Parisian Grande Guignol and to Picasso but they also retain a respect for classicism and still retain a certain sexual seduction. I don’t look at anything current, my inspiration is either way back in the grave or far off into the future, everything representing ‘now’ means nothing to me. I only want the eternal”.
British poet Jeremy Reed comments on McLeod’s ongoing collaboration with Almond,
“In many ways Mcleod is Marc Almond’s perfect photographer. Imaginative, dispensing with obvious visual props, willing to create daring backdrops and to interact with his subject’s obsessions, his gift is a rare one of empathy. In photographic terms the visual equivalent of the French writer Jean Genet. His fusion of gritty street reality with acute lyric sensitivity brings his subjects vitally alive in a way that no other photographer has done since Mick Rock or Brassai”.
The artist Val Denham is quick to also point out,
“these photographs by Jamie McLeod are not candid snapshots; they really are art in its purest form. They have taken a great deal of thought and work to bring them into being, as does all art. They are like tableaux that have been posed to perfection, with an emphasis on colour and composition at their core. McLeod sometimes uses props to create alternative atmospheres, even working on top of the taken photograph to bring into being the image he wants. This artist’s hand never subtracts from the essence of the subject that he wishes to immortalise. These are images that are subversively seductive in their representations of dreamlike imaginary worlds; they entice the observer with their androgynous beauty. These are camera ghosts preserved in a poet’s absinthe and they have no set time frame; perhaps from fin de siècle Paris, or perhaps from the distressed dark future? There is a dichotomy between the ultra-slick skill of the graphic eye and the brutalism of the rebel’s frenzied hand wielding both a flick knife and a paint brush to the sound of a demon in red velvet. Long Live Art”.
I CREATED ME (2017) by Jamie McLeod can be purchased from Timeless HERE.