John Stezaker: Double Shadow

Duality, both physical and metaphoric has always been at the centre of John Stezaker’s work. In the most recent Double Shadow collages, the processes of splitting and doubling are used to reflect on the duplicitous figure of the uncanny: the doppelgänger, Janus and hermaphrodite figures. The combination of silhouette contours reanimates these archetypal images from their most anodyne source. The contours of the figures of masculinity and femininity, so sharply delineated in 1950s Hollywood images, are dissolved into strange and sometimes monstrous hybrids; uneasy pairings created in the intersection of shadows that seem to hover between worlds. Inspired by the use of silhouettes in fin de siécle fairytale illustrations and early expressionist cinema, Stezaker claims to have “rediscovered the pleasures of drawing” in these works, “in the power of contour to delineate the edge between presence and absence and the imaginary and the real.”

In the Double Shadows, two silhouette cut-outs are overlaid (and occasionally intertwined), shifting the focus from an absent foreground figure to the normally unnoticed background in the creation of a third figure: an impossible and uneasy fusion somewhere between the ‘real’ world of the photographic image and imaginary otherworlds. The resultant shadow figures stir an inexplicable uneasiness in the viewer.

A new interest in colour in the Double Shadows is something we are not used to seeing from an artist who has mainly been drawn to black and white film still photography. In the past, collages have regularly used black grounds, but in this exhibition the works, though still dark in tone, are mounted on a variety of subtlety coloured grounds of deep blues, reds and greens. The coloured printed pages of the 1950s film annuals employed in the work chime with the pinks, greens, shades of blue, dark smoky hues and bright yellows bringing to these image composites a dreamlike atmosphere and complexity.

Duration 24 February 2022 - 26 March 2022
Times Wednesday - Saturday, 12 noon – 6pm
Cost Free
Venue The Approach
Address 47 Approach Rd, London, E2 9LY
Contact 020 8983 3878 / /

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