Gladstone celebrates Mapplethorpe

Gladstone Gallery features an exhibition of works by Robert Mapplethorpe curated by artist Arthur Jafa until 24th April 2021. Through his selection and curation, contemporary artist Jafa offers a fresh reading of Mapplethorpe works that have long been embraced by art history.

Breaching the tacit barricades that quarantine Mapplethorpe’s classically composed studio work from his notoriously unmitigated depictions of gay sexuality, Jafa’s image selection spans the full arc of Mapplethorpe’s practice. Silver gelatin portraits and still-lifes are displayed with a series of Polaroids that fluctuate between the tender and the transgressive, all of which are granted equal footing in Jafa’s hierarchy-leveling hands. Suggesting that visual information can supply narrative meaning in much the same way as a text, Jafa’s sequencing re-examines the issues of agency and power that reverberate throughout both Mapplethorpe’s work and his own.

Image: Barbara Hairston, 1983 © Robert Mapplethorpe