ART REVIEW: James Unsworth: Girth & Mirth @ Abject Gallery, Newcastle | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Bulk Male Flower Collage by James Unsworth

Girth & Mirth is at Abject Gallery until Saturday 8th September

Based on his three earlier solo shows, James Unsworth may well be on track to be considered the Alexander McQueen of the art world.  At times dark, yet always humorous, antagonistic and thought-provoking, his works have become synonymous in their ability to combine contemporary cultural references with challenging content.  Previous works on consumerism, capitalism and death have provided a shocking commentary on our current culture and its selfish fixation for ‘more’.

Refusing to stand still, Girth and Mirth, Unsworth’s fourth solo show, may well be his most challenging commentary yet given its topic of conversation (sexuality and body-image) and it’s jarring style of presentation,

Broken into two separate collections of work, Girth and Mirth sees Unworth replicate photographs from erotic gay magazines for heavy men into both collage and pencil drawing creations.  In both collections, Unsworth re-contextualises top-shelf pornographic imagery into a more open, less intimidating, form cleverly enabling the audience to reconsider and reflect on their views of sexuality and body imagery.  Complex in their creation, yet simple in their intent, the works bring new perspectives to society’s traditional view of beauty and same-sex relationships with a key message from Unsworth that we should all regularly question and analyse our beliefs. Challenging, and in some places down-right confrontational, Unsworth carries on being angry, unrelenting and forcing his audience to stop being apathetic.

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