Alexander de Cadenet’s ‘Sacred Portaits’ exhibition has been extended until 31 July at Andipa Gallery.
Alexander de Cadenet’s portraits break the mould of traditional portraiture by passing his subjects through an x-ray process revealing a skeletal forensic record with personalized elements relating to each subject’s unique character.
As a precursor to current trends, de Cadenet’s study and work with skull portraiture date back twenty years, pre-dating works from contemporaries such as Damien Hirst. With a series of inspiring yet controversial historical icons, this provocative exhibition features photographic skull portraits from celebrities to ancient kings, including Marilyn Monroe (The Star), Hitler (The Dictator) and King Tutankhamun.
Inspired by the tradition of the Vanitas, relating to the transcendence of earthly life, de Cadenet’s work explores a deeper representation of self, beyond flesh and bone, creating a timeless snapshot of the current moment with a medium that speaks to our past and future alike. The resultant radiograph cannot be created in Photoshop and is an authentic record of the subject’s identity.
A notable piece is ‘The Star’, a dramatic representation of Marilyn Monroe that questions the vanity of earthly status and fame by reaching beyond external beauty to show the anatomical essence of the icon. Here de Cadenet parodies the glamorous mask of celebrity with a portrait that strips away all material attachments, leaving the star exposed and timeless with a certain divine presence suggested by the halo above. Using this anti-portrait approach, the work speaks to the aesthetic of pop art while also suggesting a deeper spiritual contemplation touching on the mortality of life.
Born in London in 1974, Alexander de Cadenet works in the media of photography, painting and sculpture. With a practice that draws inspiration from historical portraiture, spiritualism and symbolism, his work explores sacred traditions through a contemporary perspective. The skull portraits transform instruments of medical intention into artworks that explore themes of vanitas, the nature of celebrity and existential investigation. De Cadenet has been experimenting with this form of art for 20 years and the skull portraits have been widely exhibited and presented in numerous international private collections and publications.
162 Walton Street,
London SW3 2JL