Exhibition Review : PRETTY HURTS What Lies Beneath by Rick Guest
Dates : 22nd-31st January Location : The Hospital Club Words by: Michael Peter Johnson
Greek satirist Lucien of Samosata mused, “Dance is not one of the futile arts that can be plied without pain, but one that reaches to the very summit of all culture.” It is such sacrifice and the pain that photographer Rick Guest testifies in his latest body of work, What Lies Beneath. In this exhibition Guest draws from the vulnerability and marks of devotion endured by dancers and shows each personal story in front of him.
The series, on display at London’s Hospital Club, reveals dancers stripped down in their own personal dance wear. By surrendering themselves bare to his lens, Guest has captured the dancers exposed, alone and without their excessive costumes or on stage alter egos.
These are intimate portraits that honour the scars, stitches and sacrifices that dancers endure in their pursuit for an unobtainable level of perfection. Old and torn leotards are worn as their comfort blankets and armour, where the same pair of leg warmers used since childhood have become talismans for their precarious and injury-rife careers.
A handsome and brooding image of Royal Ballet soloist Steven McRae contrasts with the fragility of dewy-eyed ballerina Olivia Cowley. These images reflect each artist’s personal charms and challenges. English National Ballet’s artistic director Tamara Rojo is captured gazing down at her feet in a contemplative and subdued state of poised control. Shot on a deep ocean blue background Guest’s slick wet photos allow us to be submerged into the portraits and offer us a glimpse of what it takes to reach the summit of human form.
Images copyright: Rick Guest