Beautiful Crime have been working with a number of up-and-coming artists for a while and have now taken the bold step to launch a permanent space above the Jealous Gallery in Shoreditch. I popped down to the debut show to see how they’d fare in their own premises. The group show had a few interesting works by the likes of Day-z and Agent X but it was a mirror polished stainless steel print by Russell Marshall of the Magnificent 7 that caught my eye straight away. I tracked Marshall down after the opening and got to know a bit more about the man behind the art.
Having made his name as an award winning newspaper designer and journalist in London, Russell is relatively new to the art world. Much of his work draws from this experience and becomes direct source material for his art as he recreates celebrity images of iconic figures in his own unique style. Both his work and his words were infused with experience, rebellion, and humorous undertones. He was happy to answer a few questions about his practice and background and in particular the print on show at Beautiful Crime.
Can you tell me a bit more about your mirrored “Magnificent 7” horsemen piece? Why did you decide to pick this scene in particular?
The Magnificent 7 stainless steel print is the result of looking at an old process of acid – or photo etching and re-engineering it. It’s how newspapers and books first printed photographs. The use of halftone tricks the eye into seeing a photographic image. Essentially I create a printing plate. But I use mirror polished stainless steel. The image is from an old press handout used to promote The Magnificent 7 movie. I grew up on a diet of cowboy movies – so love the imagery. It’s also a landmark Steve McQueen movie who is a great hero of mine.
How do you go about selecting the subjects for your work?
With twenty-something years of tabloid decision making I’m particularly drawn to images with a news value. I’m influenced by the true-life story behind photos hence the police mugshot series featuring the likes of Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie. On a daily newspaper you have minutes, maybe seconds to decide what image to use and how to use it. You have to think fast and have a reason for your decision to transferring the image to print, although the process of producing it can take much longer.
Sometimes I’ll be researching for one particular image and I’ll see something else that strikes a chord – and I’ll go off on a tangent. That’s how Elvis, Gun, Cheque came about.
I saw immediately how the pistol and the cheque would work. Two images with a limited aesthetic individually coming together to be visually stunning – but also with a story. The narrative reflects the visual.
In what ways do you think making work in London has had an effect on you
I’m from a London family. We’ve been here for hundreds of years. Oddly enough from the Shoreditch area. So it’s all kind of circular. I like the diversity of London and I like that it’s always changing. Every few years the focus seems to change to a new area. I don’t believe in fighting change – you need to ride it, to work with and look forward rather than back. Although this is probably at odds with my choice of retro images and processes. But I like to think I’m re-purposing vintage methods and images. London is a major resource of galleries and studios and there’s a wealth of creativity going on that you can emerse yourself in and become part of the scene. There’s also a lot of competition too which can work against you or for you. It’s the town that introduced me and has welcomed me to the art industry. London has shaped my art as much as it has shaped me.
Russell Marshall: http://www.russellmarshallart.com/
Beautiful Crime: http://www.beautifulcrime.com/