PHOTOGRAPHY: Tom Hunter's "Living in Hell and Other Stories"

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Tom Hunter Via Gauguin
Tom Hunter Via Gauguin
British artist Tom Hunter, who boasts the remarkable honor of being the first photographer to be granted a solo exhibition at London's National Gallery (it runs through March 12), has the same show, "Living in Hell and Other Stories," running in New York, through March 25, at the Yancey Richardson Gallery, 535 W. 22nd St. "Living in Hell," according to Yancey Richardson, "presents a series of carefully staged photographic tableaux re-enacting odd incidents or violent crimes reported in Hunter's local paper, the Hackney Gazette. With this body of work Hunter maintains his practice of creating photographs that comment on the contemporary social realities of his immediate community, viewed through an art historical lens." Indeed, Hunter's earlier series include "Persons Unknown," inspired by Vermeer, and "Life and Death in Hackney," an homage to the Pre-Raphaelites. "Living in Hell" references Gauguin, the Le Nain Brothers, Constable and Ingres. Here are some images from the new show, led by "Rat in Bed," based on Gauguin's 1892 "Spirit of the Dead Watching" (click here to see the painting). As Richard Dorment's review in the Daily Telegraph notes, "the nudity in Hunter's image, and accessories such as high-heeled boots and a feathered fan, make explicit what was only implied in the Gauguin — that the girl's sexuality is the picture's real subject. And whereas the symbolist Gauguin remains psychologically ambiguous (is the 'spirit' real or a projection of the girl's pubescent fear of sexuality?), Hunter's rats are so real they make your flesh crawl." Well, Gauguin didn't live in Hackney. See for more.
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