The Halcyon Gallery is one of the superstars of its generation – it knows its market perfectly – it has the taste of its clientele down to a T. It’s not everyone’s tastes, with their art quite often being the 3 B’s (Big, bold and brash). But it works, and the proof is evident in the pudding when you see the size of their Bond Street gallery.Their latest show is by the American Pop artist Russell Young, entitled “Superstar”. This all new body of work aims to deal with the cult of celebrity – in a seemingly vacuous world of consumer obsession, is all what it seems?
A iconic image from 1990 of a then just sixteen year old Kate Moss for British Vogue is blown up, saturated in colour and covered in glitter. It’s an obvious (yet seemingly ironic) message about how we ingest the cult of celebrity. The vivid colours are sickly sweet, as is the message. It’s both an homage and a criticism.Alongside the images of Kate Moss, are those of the American 60’s equivalent, Marilyn Monroe. Known for being the beauty of her day, but discussed just as much for her personal life and her professional life, Monroe’s photographs receives the same treatment. The images are rendered in bejewelled and glittering prints, colour drained, sparkle added. It is a careful play on the teetering point between dazzling and vulgar – which way the balancer swings is in the eye of the beholder.
Born in 1959, Russell Young is known for his large screen prints that deconstruct contemporary society’s consumption of media, through his re-appropriation of it. It’s by no means the most intelligent of artworks, but its pragmatic in its simplicity – the images in Superstar certainly get the conversation started and are a poignant reminder of the consumer side of the contemporary art market – pretty still sells.
By Benjamin Saunders
Russell Young, Superstar, Halcyon Gallery, London, 21 January–14 February 2016