Abject Gallery
Friday, June 29, 2018
Saturday, September 8, 2018
8th Floor, Bamburgh House, Market Street East, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 6BH
North East England
Breeze Creatives

Abject Gallery is pleased to present James Unsworth‘s exhibition, “Girth and Mirth”.

Unsworth’s works are characterized by direct, hyperbolic and intense depictions of corporal scenes combined with elements culled from popular visual culture. These elements are mostly connected to consumerism and capitalism, body, sexuality and death, as well as to subcultures such as comics, cartoons, junk food and pornography.

In “Girth and Mirth” (a word pair that is a pun describing a gay subculture of large men, referencing a group/club by the same name, initiated in the 1970s), Unsworth presents two new series of works, one is a series of collages, based on photographs taken from erotic gay magazines for heavy men, on the surface of which the artist applies fruit and flower imagery – images that are large, enticing and colourful, that also reference pejorative terms used toward gay men (“fruit,” “pansies”), ascribing to them feminine characteristics as derisible features. The second series in comprised of grotesque pencil-on-paper drawings, which are based on the same magazine images, elaborating them and thereby expanding their reach into other arenas of pop visual culture. Like previous works by Unsworth, the works displayed in this exhibition point their arrows at the contemporary economy of restraints, which draws clear and oppressive boundaries regarding both sex and body size. Both these arenas, which society holds as criteria for self-control, are already challenged by the images Unsworth uses as the ground for his works (erotic and pornographic images from niche magazines). But the artist adds to that by exaggerating, elaborating and expanding the images in a way that grants them an enlarged presence, turning the tables and debunking conventional judgment. It is important to note Unsworth’s complex mode of operation, which leaves no stone unturned regarding the oppressive nature of the visual regimes enveloping us, while offering a new, festive and liberated possibility that is full of life.

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