Giving new meaning to the old is part of the present. So, it should come as no surprise that artist John Stezaker has made an impact this month at Whitechapel Gallery for his conspicuous collages. The act of looking is something most, including myself, rarely adheres to. Images saturate our landscape, but on very few occasions do I actually look, perceive or interpret any of them. Unfortunately, these images serve to do little other than to document, sell or deliver a message which simply floods torrents of transport and exercises the ever limber muscles of the media. Stezaker crystallizes a new connection however.
In Stezaker’s work, isolating and deconstructing images allows him to collect and reject the loaded ideologies within many illustrations to provide purity in the collage of the images alone. This re-consideration of the image has remained a popular principle of inquiry for many, which Stezaker is now iconic for. The cult of celebrity is corrupted in Stezaker’s work as a way to absolve any conscious recognition, but the process of remembering adapts his work to breathe life into our own desires, fears and interests. These dislocated veneers are not a projection of identity but they are a surface which we can connect with. His collages are not based on quantity but quality, and this simplicity conducts a connection which is alluring and to a degree frightening. A formula consisting of distortion, idiosyncrasy, beauty and something a little spooky lets the eyes observe, look and indulge. Placing the complex into the simple never looked so good.