Paid Content / David Stewart
Sep 28 – Nov 17, 2018

David Stewart

Paid Content is a new body of work by acclaimed British photographer David Stewart (b.1958), released simultaneously as an exhibition at Wren London and as a book published by Browns Editions.

 

David Stewart

David Stewart

David Stewart

Stewart, who in 2015 won the prestigious Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, has again created a wry documentation of the everyday, drawing from his own personal experiences and using his large format camera to hold up a mirror to both them and to the world at large. Now, Stewart is gamekeeper turned poacher, using the setting of the advertising agency, an environment he, himself, has occupied for the past four decades. Through this project, Stewart explores the changing face of workplace culture and the wider dehumanizing effect that is occurring due to the growth of large, faceless corporations and globalization.

 

David Stewart

David Stewart

David Stewart

For Paid Content, Stewart has constructed a finely tuned record featuring a cast of inter-related characters within a number of semi-biographical semi-fictional settings. Through his photographic process, Stewart accords a heightened reality to these scenes. The close focus, highly detailed images result in an unforgiving, penetrative treatment of his subjects and what they stand for – high gloss superficiality, smoke and mirrors – not the creative dynamism Stewart encountered when he first entered this environment.

As Stewart states, “It is the people and culture I see around me everyday that influence my work. There is nothing stranger than what I see in real life, which is why my photographs appear slightly surreal.”

 

 

Paid Content, David Stewart / Browns Editions

Yet for all its outward disapproval at the fakery and insecurity it captures, Stewart’s images are imbued with a sense of humor and, even at times, an empathy for their subject matter. Through the positioning and lighting of his figures, Stewart adds further layers to the imagery, evoking scenes from both Renaissance and Baroque paintings. On closer inspection the repeated inclusion of symbolism within the frame recalls the iconography of religious subjects from these artistic periods. On a contemporary level these staged scenarios are instantly recognizable even to those outside of the advertising industry. Yet Stewart avoids mere stereotyping through his acute observational eye and impeccable casting of his characters. This is the Emperor’s new clothes laid bare.

 

Paid Content / David Stewart
September 28 – November 17, 2018 / Wren London
Please visit the exhibition page >

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