Sunday, 14 April 2013

Masayoshi Sukita-Photographs of David Bowie 1972 to 2002:Snap Gallery London

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The hot ticket in London at the moment, of course, is the big David Bowie exhibition at the V&A with every visitor slot sold out until God knows when and all the extension places instantly going like hot cakes and probably all snapped up by now, as well. Having seen the magnificent "Glam! The Performance of Style" exhibition in Liverpool a few days before my jaunt down south, I wasn't that bothered about missing out on a place myself. The debilitating disappointment was also tempered by a visit to a small exhibition of Masayoshi Sukita's photographs of the man at Snap Gallery in the Piccadilly Arcade, just over the road from the Royal Academy.

As the exhibition title suggests, theirs is a relationship which stretches back over forty years to a time roughly equatable to the release of the "Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars" album and performances he did shortly afterwards on the back of it. When Bowie played the Rainbow Theatre in London in August 1972, for example, Sukita was present with his camera, snapping his subject both on and off the stage, continuing do so throughout this era such that, in the early stages of this chronologically organised exhibition, images including the flame dyed feather cut, some in colour, others black and white, and some with him sporting the famous Kansai Yamamoto outfits abound.

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For many people, perhaps the most familiar photograph produced by the pair, and especially so at present as it has resurfaced, albeit occluded, for the sleeve of the latest album "The Next Day", is the German Expressionist inspired one which appeared on the cover of "Heroes" and a number of prints from this session are on display, too, as the exhibition progresses, the Berlin Bowie's hair appearing wild and lacking the more recognisable slickness in some pictures when compared to the one which was finally reproduced millions of times and became a staple in the record racks.

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Then, down in the basement, the exhibition reaches its conclusion with images of an older, hoarily bestubbled early twenty-first century Bowie. Here, a figure with whom I am a lot less familiar stares out from inside the frames but it is still the same remarkable and instantly recognisable physiognamy so many of us will have seared into our psyches until the day we die.

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Unlike the aforementioned Kenneth Anger exhibition, this one has a little longer to run, until the end of the month, and like that one consists only of two rooms so it is quite quick to get around. They're within spitting distance of one another, too, so will be easy to do in one fell swoop if you get your skates on and go before the end of the week. If you're rich, too, everything on display can be purchased, as all of the pictures are available in small editions signed by the photographer. Why not treat yourself?

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Oh, yes and I never thought I'd hear myself saying these words: I like Bowie's new album, even if it isn't as good as the new Depeche Mode one which is fantastic.

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