‘Gimme Shelter’ presents a curated selection of works by our diverse international roster of artists, each of whom offers a compelling reflection on the concept of shelter and the enduring human need to psychologically delineate boundaries between spaces.
Working with a broad range of media including film, photography, immersive installation, and painting, the artists share an interest in exploring the significance of the spaces we inhabit and how they represent ourselves, our values, and our desires.
Featured artists include David LaChapelle, whose subjects become characters in a meticulously orchestrated landscape, often embracing a profound social message; photographer and artist Coco Capitán, whose artistic practice examines the relationship between reality and perception, beauty and subversion; Robert Polidori, who is considered one of the world’s most acclaimed photographers of human habitats and environments; Freeman and Lowe, who collaboratively draw on a series of historical and fictional narratives to create large-scale, mazelike architectural installations; François Halard, one of the most prolific and well-known interior and architectural photographers of our time; and contemporary visual artists McDermott & McGough, who challenge the chronological boundaries of art history and cultural identity.
Oh, a storm is threat'ning
My very life today
If I don't get some shelter
Oh yeah, I'm gonna fade away
In a viral video interpretation of Hozier’s ‘Take Me to Church,’ David LaChapelle showcases Ukrainian dancer Sergei Polunin in a mesmerizing routine for the Grammy-nominated single, filmed in a bare, sun-drenched space at the filmmaker’s studio in Hawaii.
LaChapelle’s filming creates its own striking chemistry with Polunin, portraying him nakedly, poignantly alone with himself. His numerous tattoos – usually covered with stage makeup – are proudly on display, his dancer’s tights are symbolically torn. In the passionate, four-minute sequence, LaChapelle presents Polunin as a kind of sacrificial solitary figure, leaping and crouching in an unabashed display of raw emotion and powerful physicality.
“He’s telling a story, and I’m hanging on every non-word. I feel lifted when he flies into the air; I feel a thrilling little almost-whirl when he whirls. I’m right there with him on his own journey of vulnerability and transformation.”
Acutely intimate and emotive, Coco Capitán’s photographic portraits capture the subtlety of human gestures and spontaneous moments that manifest in her poetic and narrative-driven imagery.
In Capitán’s playful story for the inaugural issue of Family Portrait magazine, which positively documents and explores family relationships and their myriad manifestations, the photographer features her ‘family’ – her all-female football team from east London, known as The Whippets.
Founded by Brendan Freeman and SJ Todd, Family Portrait magazine is primarily a photo journal in which contributors give an intimate and personal insight into the depth and dynamic behind the meaning of family, arguing that family can mean anything.
“The world we live in isn’t in the best state and there is currently a lot of negative energy that comes with that. We want to celebrate the positive by embracing our loved ones and just take things back to the core route of connection.”
Robert Polidori’s Versailles photographs document the decadence, eccentricity, and ultimate transformation of the 17th-century palace with images ranging from grand, dramatic views of the galleries, halls and salons to more intimate photographs that focus on particular paintings, furnishings, and room details.
Captured over 30+ years and published in a three-volume book, the Versailles series introduces the witness into the intimacy of a family house left unoccupied by its inhabitants and still bearing the scars of a time gone by. Polidori’s signature use of a large-format view camera allows for a visual citation of both past history and the present times within the confines of a single frame.
''Besides the obvious sheltering from the extremes of the elements, people make rooms to live in as if they are animated by an unconscious desire to return to a prenatal life, or even before that, to a soul life. This is what they exteriorise in rooms, their internal soul life, or less magically put, their personal values, if you will.''
The latest chapter in Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe’s San San Universe, a dystopian world in which burgeoning cultures are transfiguring the world around them, COLONY SOUND is a multi-room immersive installation spanning both floors of the Marlborough London Gallery.
Presenting a speculative history where a network for an unhinged wellness program connects 11 dystopian, fantastical and downright surreal rooms, the installation presents various different dilapidated environments, which seem to have been abandoned by their inhabitants.
A sequence of brutalist pleasurescapes designed for total withdrawal, each interior space functions like an island seemingly separate and self-contained. Strange yet beautiful, the exhibit is innately immersive, inviting each visitor to experience their own subjective reality.
“Each room gives the art within it a life and depth that is so unlike the stripping effects one receives within the white cube. The art melds into its surrounding space as if it sprung out from it, rather than becoming entrapped within it.”
With an unparalleled sensibility that is at once old-world elegant and eclectic, François Halard is widely known for capturing the world’s most beautiful homes and the people who inhabit them.
The meditative beauty of Halard’s pictures is often found in the organized chaos, quirky collections, and evidence of lives well lived. In his hands, the camera becomes a portal into the inner workings of creative lives.
Halard’s lens lingers on details that others might easily overlook; he uses photography to reveal aspects of each artist’s home, that, to him, say something about their world, from whichever corner of the house that may be.
“Faced with the bestial hostility of the storm and the hurricane, the house’s virtues of protection and resistance are transposed into human virtues. The house acquires the physical and moral energy of a human body. It braces itself to receive the downpour, it girds its loins. When forced to do so, it bends with the blast, confident that it will right itself again in time, while continuing to deny any temporary defeats.”
“His work has a painterly effect. It’s as if he captures the emotion, the vibrations, inherent in the space, but also, and one might argue equally, his own appreciation of it, his own feelings.”
In ‘Suspicious of Rooms without Music or Atmosphere’ at Cheim & Read, collaborative duo David McDermott and Peter McGough focus on images of self-introspection and human emotion, with scenes emphasizing the absurdity and cruelty of life’s journey.
Photo-realistic paintings juxtapose carefully selected movie scenes in which a decisive moment is central, allowing for new and alternate readings of existing narratives. Within sumptuous, well-appointed rooms – ‘manufactured’ by Hollywood and echoing the commercial artifice of our own lives – lone female figures are ensnared by the consequences of their decisions.
McDermott & McGough are fascinated by the impact of one’s choices in life and the quick disintegration of well-laid plans after a bad turn. The fragility of existence – the unfairness and perversity of life – in part defines the search for self.
“In a room without music or atmosphere, we are left in solitude; without distraction we face ourselves.”
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