A new exhibition has opened in London’s Mayfair, featuring an array of artists from past to present all depicting various notions of masculinity. With its apropos title of Be A Man!, the exhibit is currently at the Sumarria Lunn Gallery, and hosts art work from Claude Cahun, Alexis Hunter, Mahtab Hussain, Ali Kazim, littlewhitehead, Miguel Rael, and Hank Willis Thomas.
Claude Cahun is the oldest of the artists exhibited, with her self-portraits of the 1920s so striking in edge that they could have easily been produced in the modern age. The tiny black & whites depict a somewhat of a gender-less aesthetic in her goals to subvert the preconceived ideals of masculinity, gender, and identity.
In his serious of paintings entitled, I Am A Man, African-American artist Hank Willis Thomas takes on a more political note; with the pieces being influenced by the placards of the civil rights protesters led by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. The placards were used to imply the existence of a universal definition of what it means to be a man in order to appeal for fair treatment. However, in Hank Willis Thomas’ series of paintings, the text is reconfigured to question the notion of a homogeneous male identity.
Mahtab Hussain’s compelling photographs detail the male persona of the Asian British male in modern England. A product of a three year photographic study into the Pakistani communities of Birmingham, the pieces seek to answer the complex question of what it means to be a British Pakistani male today. From the Islamic perspective of the’ collective whole’, the broader secular society, and the influence of American gang culture and hip hop, the photographs display a group of men who seek to satisfy the demands of society while still at odds with their identity, and more importantly, their heritage.
The concept of masculinity and the idea of gender types has been prevalent in art for hundreds of years. This new show seeks to address the changing attitudes in gender association, while embracing historical, cultural, social, and political approaches to explore masculinity from a range of perspectives.
Exhibition runs: 14th March to 19th April 2013
Location: 36 South Molton Lane, Mayfair, London W1K 5AB
Tuesday – Friday: 11am – 6pm
Saturday: 12 – 5pm