Robert Mapplethorpe's Exhibition at Gladstone Gallery05 Apr 2022
Gladstone Gallery hosted an exhibition of works by Robert Mapplethorpe from March 12 to April 24, 2022, with Arthur Jafa as the curator. The show is a retrospective of Mapplethorpe's career with a "visual sequence" approach, as Jafa calls it. Mapplethorpe's familiar studio photographs are arranged next to several of his lesser-known polaroids in this show. According to Jafa, just as the text can communicate narrative meaning about the artist to the viewer, Mapplethorpe's gelatine silver portraits and his still lifes can convey a narrative line about him through visual information. The series arranged by Jafa properly represents Mapplethorpe's career path as a photographer by refocusing on issues of agency and power that were prevalent in most of the artist's works.
The atmosphere Mapplethorpe has created with his subjects engaged Jafa in deeper contemplation about the artist. Mapplethorpe has created a metaphorical yet explicit space, a delicate balance between intimacy and formalism that represents his attitude. The artist may also be known for his paintings or sculptures. He started working as a graphic designer in Brooklyn. In 1970, a friend gave him a polaroid camera which he initially used to document the process of artistic creation. Later, photography took root in Mapplethorpe as an artistic medium and became a part of his career path.
In this event at Gladstone, portraits of famous artists are arranged next to images of landscapes, trees, and rocks. Each of Mapplethorpe's frames requires a response from Jafa; therefore, the show is more like a subtle dialog between the two artists.
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