Mapplethorpe exhibition in Perth

Issue 

Mapplethorpe exhibition in Perth

Robert Mapplethorpe Retrospective
WA Art Gallery until August 6
Reviewed by Leon Harrison

Robert Mapplethorpe, a famous and controversial gay US photographer, died in 1989 leaving a legacy in his mainly black and white photographs.

The 200 photographs in this exhibition include various depictions of gay sexuality, portraits of men, women and children, and still life of flowers and inanimate objects. All are presented as form and pattern, with skin and hair adding texture. Many of them are very confronting.

Because of Mapplethorpe's positive and explicit images of gay sexuality, in particular black gay men, his work has met with outrage from right-wing politicians in the US. In Western Australia similar bigotry has been heard, including from members of government. On the whole, however, the response in Australia and Europe has been more supportive.

Mapplethorpe's work shows great insight in the depiction of the human form. This artist works with a sculptor's rather than a painter's eye. This exhibition is a must.

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