Chuck Close @ White Cube

Over 150 images spanning the last 40 years are currently adorning the White Cube’s walls. These prints comprise huge portraits which stare out at you. They are hyper-real, lifelike and unidealised. They are so realistic they look like photographs. But they aren’t.

Portrait artist Chuck Close suffered a spinal aneurysm in 1988 yet looking at his paintings you would have no idea. A survey of four decades of work is on display at the White Cube. Each of the works is a portrait in varying forms. Prints, lithographs, mezzotints and more are on display. Some portraits have been comprised of thumb marks, others are made out of tapestry. Some are black and white, some in colour.

These works have been touring the United States for the past decade and it is easy to see why they are so popular. Among the faces on display are well known personalities such as Philip Glass and fellow artists Roy Lichtenstein and Zhang Huan. Each sitter is someone the artist knows personally, some of which just happen to be famous. You would have a good friendship with the artist to sit for him as the images show every detail. Close does not ‘beautify’ his images, they are photorealistic, if you want a wrinkle painted out that is not going to happen. His works are strikingly honest and true to life.

Where the show really excels is in its explanation of how the works are made. There are videos of Close’s work with a team of master print makers. Here acknowledging that he employs a collaborative process in order to make his art, where most artist’s do all that they can to hide this. This allows the viewer to see how the artist thinks. We are shown grid patterns and the tools used to create etchings, engravings, japanese wood block prints, silkscreens and collages. Close has played with the oldest and newest techniques.

These ‘heads’ as Close chooses to call his portraits are definitely not to be missed. Not only do we see over 100 impressively realistic prints but are given an understanding and demonstration of an artist who is not afraid to utilise a variety of techniques.

Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration is on display at White Cube Bermondsey until 21 April

Posted by

Lizzy Vartanian Collier is a London-based writer and curator. She is the founder of Gallery Girl - a London-based curatorial platform and website dedicated to modern and contemporary art from across the globe. Her work is primarily focused on supporting emerging female artists from the Middle East and the Caucasus. She has written for Canvas Magazine, Harper's Bazaar Arabia, Ibraaz, Jdeed Magazine, Suitcase and Vice Arabia among other publications. Her exhibitions in London and Armenia have been featured in Vogue Arabia, The Art Newspaper, The Art Gorgeous and numerous other news outlets. Gallery Girl has also spoken in the UK, UAE and Belgium about the contemporary art scene in the MENA region, and is planning further events in London and Amman.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s