As my friend and I entered through the doors of the exhibition we were personally greeted by the genius behind, and father of, the exhibition himself: Mr Ram Shergill. With a dazzling smile and a sparkling gold emblazoned jacket, we were immediately drawn in. So it comes as no surprise that his artwork had the very same effect of ensnaring us too. Immediately our eyes were drawn to two portraits of model Grace Bol modestly covering her naked body, not that you notice her nudity, for her radiant smile is the only clothing she needs. The focus is on her natural beauty as she stares out at you with an expression of pure joy and ecstasy. The lighting of the photograph highlights and accentuates every delicate and graceful curve of her sinuous arms and facial structure. Ironically, although I have been speaking about the interior charm of this exhibition, in the sense that each picture and artwork pulls you in and captivates your attention, the focus of the exhibition is actually on the exterior.
This is made obvious by the exhibition’s title: ‘Exoskeleton’; through new and innovative photography techniques such as bio-mimetic design and the multi-layering of fluid identities, award winning artist Ram Shergill explores how dress and clothing is an inherent part of our bodies. But also how it becomes similar to an exoskeleton (an external, hard out layer that covers and protects invertebrate animals such as an insect or crustacean- you’re welcome I had no idea before either!). Shergill’s thought process and the connection and interaction between human and animal is evident in one photograph of a woman wearing a mask and headdress composed entirely of butterflies. The illusion created is as if butterfly and skin blend into one, creating a hybrid species of mammal and insect. The rich orange, mustard and brown hues of the butterflies’ contrasts perfectly with the pale, porcelain skin of the model to create a stunning overall aesthetic.
The exhibition was curated by Daen Palma Huse who states that: “The exhibition prompts us to think about the place that we, as humans, (want to) assume within nature and amongst other life forms, regardless of whether they might be human or animal or else”. While Shergill adds that: “this exhibition is a celebration of becoming ‘other’ through the performance and continuous transformation of the ‘self’.” I love this quote from Shergill, the notion of humans as being in a state of unending change and metamorphoses is extremely liberating and reminds me of evolution. For in a way we really are one with animals and can consider them as our ancestors; I like to think of humans as possessing an inner animal and accompanying animalistic traits – in this way the whole world and all of its species can be seen as connected.
Shergill’s Exoskeleton exhibition ran from the 11th-15thof July and although it has now ended, I had to write a review. It was one of the best art exhibitions I have visited and I encourage all CUB readers to check out Shergill’s work for themselves and make a note of future exhibitions to attend. Ram Shergill is also the founder of The Protagonist Magazine which boasts of detailed and thought-provoking articles about the leading figures dominating the stage, screen and art world – have a nose at it here: http://www.theprotagonistmagazine.com/about/
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