Marking the launch of Brownsword Hepworth's new gallery, UNSEEN ICONS exhibits sixteen of Phil Griffin's portraits of celebrities that have defined western culture over the past century; amongst them: Paul McCartney, Prince, and Mikhail Baryshnikov.
After graduating from the Ballet Rambert in London as a dancer and choreographer, Griffin became renowned for directing music videos such as Amy Winehouse's 'Rehab', 'Back to Black', and 'You Know I'm No Good'.
Following this, and inspired by Horst P. Horst's canonical fashion photography, he worked as a photographer and filmmaker for the world's leading musicians, and concurrently developed his practice as an experimental visual artist through creating his full-length feature film 'Surrender'. During this project, as a result of a technical error which distorted several of his images, Griffin became interested in the semantic and visual possibilities that might be afforded through utilising photographic techniques such as unorthodox exposures and shutter speeds.
The intimate photographs on display evidence the intertwinement of Griffin's professional and artistic practices. Whilst negotiating formal and less restrained approaches to photography, the works manifest the artist's consistent investment in exposing what he describes as the 'vulnerability' of the subjects, or their unrestrained emotional essences. This realisation is partly achieved through Griffin's highly personable and considered approach, which involves diminishing his presence and eliminating any forms of staging-decisions that are often highlighted by the artist's skilful use of negative space.
Reflecting on this subject, and offering an insightful summary of his practice, Griffin has commented: "Dishonesty is the first attitude that people adopt in a conversation. We feel angst at being ourselves, fear that we are not good enough...that is a hard burden to carry, and so we hide the thing that is the most beautiful: the truth. In my view, ugliness is the hiding of wounds, anger, tears and anxieties."
UNSEEN ICONS has been organised in support of The Prince's Trust and The Amy Winehouse Foundation.