DUANE HANSON: BODY-BUILDER EXTRAORDINAIRE
Saturday 12 April 1997
The artist, who died last year, began moulding figures in the 1960s, using body casts taken from friends and family. Many of these early works showed a propensity towards explicit social protest, with tableaux such as Poor Man In A Casket, Murder Victim and Suicide presenting uncannily life-like images of injustice and violence.
Picketed by outraged protesters, the first exhibitions achieved a certain succes de scandale. Hanson soon shrugged off such blatant politicising, however, for a more disturbing, deadpan photo-realism. Characters such as Supermarket Shopper, Tourists and Lady With A Cleaning Cart began to populate his world - figures which, despite a mortuarist's attention to detail (Hanson spent hours sewing in forearm hair and painting on broken veins), are fascinating for their waxen soullessness.
At the vanguard of a certain unflinching, pop art-influenced realism known as hyperillusionism, Hanson played around with the grotesquery of American "types" before opting for a style of eloquent banality. Whether supping a fizzy drink, snoozing on a sunlounger or gazing, arms akimbo, at some unseen tourist attraction, Hanson's subjects embody the pathos of everyday existence, the nature of private experience in mass society.
In one interview, Hanson admitted that he "tried not to pick people that are very interesting - like an interesting face or a strange expression. I tried to stay away from that, to confront people with something from their daily experience."
The result is as if passers-by have stepped off the Miami streets and into Madame Tussauds. Not famous or even notorious, these are simply weary figures caught in repose, bodies whose empty eyes force the gaze onto their common accumulation of consumer luggage - bags, sunglasses and cameras, along with the corporeal baggage of swollen ankles, wrinkles and layers of fat.
Perhaps Hanson's greatest achievement was the artlessness of his social commentary. Asked once about the evaporation of politics from his work, Hanson replied: "You can't always scream and holler; you have to once in a while whisper, and sometimes that whisper is more powerful than all the screaming and hollering and fussing and fuming you can do."
Saatchi Gallery, 98a Boundary Rd, London NW8 (0171-624 8299). Continues to end of July. Open Thur, Sat, Sun 12-6pm pounds 3.50
Life & Style blogs
Men in tights: getting to the bottom of the latest trend
Night Nurse could put drivers over new drug limit
Snapchat removed the Best Friends list feature and 'stalkers' are upset
Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
Xbox Live down: gaming service breaks itself, but hackers claim credit
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...
Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGHEST QUALITY INTERNATIONAL FIRM - A...
Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - EXCELLENT FIRM - We have an outstandin...
Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: IN-HOUSE - NATIONAL CHARITY - An exciting and...