Martin Parr no longer needs to be presented. His famous portraits are a reflection of our society, but in a singular form: Martin Parr has developed his own signature. The way he depicts human weaknesses, contradictions or “strangeness” -as he says himself- have made him a great sociologist of our time. Let me introduce you to “Only Human”, the new Martin Parr exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery…
Martin Parr’s singularity
I can’t clearly remember when and where I discovered Martin Parr’s artwork, but I certainly remember the photographs that struck me (part of his book “The last resort”): they were showing people sunbathing in horrible surroundings. I was totally seduced by this new way of examining the western world… Since then, I can’t miss a chance to see his exhibitions.
The common point of all Martin Parr’s exhibitions is that they show his unique style. This British Photographer (born in 1952 and member of Magnum Photos since 1994) has developed his signature with photographs made of vivid colors and satirical tone. In his own words: “Remember I make serious photographs disguised as entertainment”.
His photographs offer different levels of interpretation and that’s why Martin Parr is for me a true and singular sociologist of our time…
Martin Parr has covered several photographic projects, documenting the social classes of England or more widely the developed western countries.
In his current exhibition Martin Parr presents several themed series of photographs, but also tackles “the whole question of British identity”.
“Only Human” exhibition
This exhibition is divided into several series. “Everybody dance now” is one of them.
It shows how people from around the world enjoy music and dance and forget about their inhibitions…
Then, “Beside the seaside” offers new pictures of beaches and sometimes raises the question of identity.
This picture in particular is interesting as symbolizes Brexit uncertainty. It shows people looking at the open sea without moving -quite indecisive and at the same time the flag is warning them about a forthcoming possible danger. Martin Parr explains it in a well-done video during the exhibition.
In “Celebrity” Martin Parr portrays celebrities (like the Perry family above and Cara Delevingne below) with his own signature…
“Grand Slam” offers quite a few nice photographs about great tennis tournaments to analyse the way we are cheering the players…
With “Fotoesculturas” Martin Parr commissioned an 84 year-old Mexican artist -Bruno Eslava- who is one of the last practitioner of the art of photo sculpture. Using a mix of wood and photographs, he made a series of portraits of Martin Parr, thus creating objects out of photographs.
Due to current news “Britain in the time of Brexit” is obviously a major part in this exhibition.
Martin Parr travelled through Great Britain to capture a sense of identity…
Once more, I have enjoyed Martin’s Parr exhibition, which provides a high number of portraits in well-organized areas.
Martin Parr’s artwork makes us analyse what we see, this artist has the ability to turn an audience into active spectators of his photographs. And that’s for me the best mission of Art…(and I marvel at seeing other people in the rooms either raising eyebrows, frowning, or laughing … no one seem indifferent!).
“I make the pictures acceptable in order to find the audience but deep down there is actually a lot going on that’s not sharply written in your face. If you want to read it you can read it”
Nothing needs to be added: go and see this amazing exhibition for yourself!
To go further:
“Only Human” National Portrait Gallery (Picadilly Circus tube station): St Martin’s Place, London, WC2H 0HE
Martin Parr Foundation: 316 Paintworks, Bristol BS4 3AR
Martin Parr self-portrait online
Martin Parr case study