A collection of Boo Ritson’s work, showcasing an array of prints, some well known and others rarely seen, has been unveiled at Southampton City Art Gallery in collaboration with Poppy Sebire. What is immediately striking about the work is how the viewer is thrown into a void between the real and the fake, consequently making it difficult to judge if these portraits are in fact human sitters or simply a representation in the form of painted mannequins. This uncertainty fuels a tension, an almost eerie atmosphere filled with doubt as you gaze upon each image, until you realise that the vast majority are in fact human canvases where Ritson has drenched the models in emulsion paint. This alternative process of paint and painter creates an extra dimension of performance, and with the photography having to take place before the paint dries, decisions must be made swiftly. Though of course the heavy layers of emulsion are a distraction from the reality, the smudges and imperfections they create reflect an honest perception of human nature while simultaneously presenting a vision of how we build up fake ideals and gloss over the natural, or the indeed the truth. A similar approach can be seen in the recent Lernert & Sander: Natural Beauty post, suggesting that the questions raised over the real and the natural is placing the body as spectacle once more within an arena for debate.
Seductively arranged, highly saturated American iconography and caricatures embodied in works such as ‘The Slot Player’ – 2006 and the sweet fast food sensation of ‘Donut’ – 2007, the show is a rather personal collection that is relative to Ritson herself, where the suggestion of the uncertainty between what is real and what isn’t is always present. This intriguing series of prints fixated on American culture can be seen until 2nd January 2012.