Sunday 21 January 2018

What Lies Beneath: Patterned Figure II by Nick Mobbs

Patterned Figure II by Nick Mobbs, Digital print, courtesy of the artist

Patterned Figure II by Nick Mobbs
Patterned Figure II by Nick Mobbs

Niall MacMonagle

Sane Meryl Streep knows that it doesn't matter how long the car is, as long as it gets you home safely. Yet some celebrities are needy: scented candles in the Green Room, supplies of mascarpone flown in especially from Italy, cushions of a certain colour...

And Graham Norton tells of how one mega-celebrity invited on his show asked for NINE dressing rooms only to discover the day before that person's appearance that a tenth dressing room had to be made available for the recharging of phones. Yerra.

In recent work, artist Nick Mobbs addresses our awareness of and engagement with celebrity. With a degree in physics, another in fine art, a masters in print making, he now lectures at De Montfort University, Leicester, and while photographs inspire him he sees himself "not as a photographer but as somebody who makes pictures.

"Print allows me to turn photographs into pictures, remove the photographic truth? - and have physical control of the finished work," he says.

"Mentally, I build images in layers in my head and this suits the print process. With screen printing each colour, for example, is applied as a separate layer."

Patterned Image II, a digital print for a lightbox, from a series featuring celebrities and criminals "was built in three colour 'channels': cyan, magenta and black."

Against that striped background, beneath a striped scarf or shawl, the hidden bejewelled figure is deliberately in monochrome.

"I wanted the parts of the figure we can see to stand out. The face is covered, only the hand is uncovered - so we look to that to try and read expression or tension."

Most celebrities crave attention. Yet this one is hiding. "They are shielding themselves from our gaze," says Mobbs.

One curator described the series as a negation of celebrity but Mobbs thinks that "the images still, somehow, act as idols. I am interested in how depicting someone covered seems to deny access to the picture and the person".

This woman is imprisoned within those stripes. A prison of their own making?

And who was it - Boo! Hiss! - that wanted those 10 dressing rooms? They should be locked up. But Mr Norton, gentleman, will not hiss and tell.

nickmobbs.co.uk

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