Jun 16 - Jul 8
11:00 - 17:00
Insanity Fair is the first exhibition of work in London by artist Zoobs Ansari since his move to Los Angeles in 2014, and comprises more than 30 works created by the artist over the last seven years.
Famed for his striking multimedia artworks, the starting point for this show is the infamous quote from Andy Warhol: ‘In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.’ Ansari turns a dark mirror on this obsession with celebrity and asks if the reality of fame might really be a price worth paying.
In Insanity Fair we see the glamour, beauty and an eye for the kind of perfect styling which is part of the celebrity lifestyle, but with the skin peeled back to reveal the scars and dissonance underneath the surface gloss. There is a paradox understood by both Warhol and explored by Ansari here: fame makes the individual simultaneously ‘untouchable’ and exposed. The tension observed between the two is a fertile area for the artist.
The show will range across many of Ansari’s most striking portraits of figures from the world of fashion and music, including John Lennon, Amy Winehouse and David Bowie. Of his 2015 work I’m Too Sad to Tell You, featuring Meital Dohan, Ansari explains, ‘It’s a very glamorous setting, yet she is vulnerable… it says to the viewer that it’s OK to cry, the ultimate vulnerability is to be able to break down in front of one another.’
A different kind of intimacy is displayed in the series of two-dimensional graphic works, including the Social Anxiety and Forever Young series: digital collages created from photographic, painted and drawn imagery explore the artist’s fascination with artifice and representation. These works are striking and fractured psychological portraits, at once removed whilst creeping under the skin of both subject and viewer.
Ansari comments, ‘Originally my work was about preservation and perfection but now it’s the opposite; I’m peeling off the layers, trying to scratch through the surface.’
Insanity Fair is open at Elephant West from today. Tours are by appointment only and can be booked for free here. As an alternative, an online experience is available where visitors can explore the exhibition with an immersive, audio and visual 360° virtual tour.
Image: Zoobs Ansari, I’m Too Sad to Tell You, 2015