One of my tutors Steve introduced me to an artist called Jonathon Yeo. My painting of Arnold Schwarzenegger reminded him of one that Yeo had done.
Yeo is a London born, self taught artist. He uses collage on a lot of his work and this is what caught the public’s attention. He primarily does portraits of well known people like celebrities, public figures, royalty, etc. He also cobines collage and paint, but it is mostly one or the other.
(Self Portrait of Jonathan Yeo)
What makes him stand out and unusually controversial is that he uses images of porn when doing his collages. If you were to view his work without knowing this you may never know that this was the case. They look amazing and until you look properly then you may start to notice the graphic images which actually make the pieces of art.
The work which got people talking and probably his most famous is a portrait of then president George Bush.
The images used are all from Jonathon Yeo’s official website
There is no denying that this is George Bush. And it is quite unbelievable that you can create something that looks exactly like someone out of pieces of paper. And unless you spend time looking closely you wouldn’t notice the controversial materiel used to make up the face.
Now, it seems more fitting to uses pornography to create a portrait of Playboy owner Hugh Hefner, but why George Bush??
I tried to find out why he uses porn and what he feels he is trying to express by doing so.
With regards to his portrait of President Bush, I found his following statement very interesting;
‘I felt this would be a fitting comment on the breathtaking hypocrisy of Bush and the extreme right in America. These people have no moral objections to sending people to die in unnecessary wars, or pursuing environmental policies that will cause chaos for our kids, yet they get upset about photos of people having sex.’
I totally agree. People are so easily offended and shy away from speaking about sex and are opposed to seeing it on our televisions and in magazines yet the amount of violence that you see everyday being presented in movies and television and all over You Tube and on social networking sites seems to be more acceptable.
I think it is the embarrassment of the naked body being exposed. We seem to have a an old way of thinking sometimes when it comes to sex and the body and people seem to be apposed to it. So i completely agree with what Yeo said and his defense almost and justifications to why he did it.
His website http://jonathanyeo.com/ is fantastic and his artwork even more so. I found this statement on his website and it really does explain his reasoning behind the pornography use in his work;
Pornography is largely consumed privately, so sticking it in a very public art space is guaranteed to create reactions. How porn represents the sexual body is often very different from erotic art. These photographs are made purely as a sexual aid. They play with aggression and submission. They are inextricably linked with money, objectification and power. The pretense of voyeurism is vital to keep up their sense of arousal. The rise of digital culture and the Internet in the past decade has hugely influenced how we look at porn. In the West, we are bombarded with sexual images and pornographic spam. The body has become something impersonal and publicly consumed.
I think this is a brilliant statement. And it is so true about the use of the internet and how your just a click away from porn. I think some of us are so shocked by what we see whilst others are not shocked by it at all.
He does not always uses collage for his art.
This portrait of Prince Phillip is remarkable. When you look it could almost have been done using collage as the colours he has used are in blocks almost. The contrast in the colours is what make this piece so effective. The colours have not been blnded much and it creates a really good effect.
The portrait of Dennis Hopper is equally as brilliant as the one of Prince Phillip, however is technique is different again. This piece is very photo realistic and it is so because he has blended the colours more to create a more realistic tone in the skin.
His technique is fantastic. The way he has captured the emotion of smiling Nicole Kidman and how photo realistic the artwork is.
The following was statement was made by Yeo;
If you paint a portrait and it’s massively flattering, the artist is going to look as if they are not doing their job properly – and the subject is going to look like they are on a vanity trip. If you are after a truth from a portrait, you want it to do something a photo can’t. A painting has to have a sense of time passing in it. A photo captures a moment. A painting can’t compete with that. At the same time, a photo can’t compete with the assimilation of information that a painter does.
I have never been into portraiture but since seeing Yeo’s work it has definitely inspired me to experiment and try it.
I personally enjoy sketching and painting the figure as a whole as I think you have to be very special to be able to do a portrait and capture the emotions of that person in the image you have created. I will definitely experiment whilst I am preparing for my Final piece and use the techniques I have developed and also experiment with different mediums and media to create and achieve different effects
The following websites have also assisted my artist research: