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Cindy Sherman at Sprüth Magers London

January 14, 2011 by Georgia

7A Grafton Street, London W1S 4EJ

Until 19 February 2011

It is probably one of the most challenging tasks for a contemporary artist: to be established and known for a certain trademark and still remain inventive and original whilst working within your scope. With a body of work like Cindy Sherman's, who has used her own metamorphosed self as the subject of her work since the beginning of her career in the 1970s it is almost inevitable to be at some point labeled as a one-trick pony. With her latest series of work, currently on show at the Sprüth Magers Gallery in West London, Sherman does however succeed - once again - to intrigue the viewer with something strangely new, be it in a nicely familiar way.

As always obsessed with the colourful and eccentric, the subjects in Sherman's current exhibition are mad looking exhibitionists who, with their semi-realistic outfits and semi-sarcastic looks remind the most of the characters from our beloved Little Britain. For this exhibition Sherman chose a wide range of different characters, all seemingly lost in their own crazy ways. Notable in this exhibition is Sherman's departure from the framed image. Having the images mounted directly onto the walls of the gallery creates an extremely life-like effect and it also enables the artist to use all the available space in the gallery, creating a completely different, more direct experience.

Another thing worth mentioning is Sherman's embracement of digital photography and the wonders of advanced image retouching. Most obvious is the use of a monochrome background against which the characters are set and which adds a dark fairytale theme to the whole show. Sherman has also used her digital tools to carefully manipulate her alter-egos, sometimes distorting their facial expressions and playing with their proportions. It enabled her to minimize the use of make-up, and to show endearingly bare faces without losing the desired expression.

Despite the small scale of the show (the gallery consists of two, modestly sized rooms), the works manage to have a long lasting impact. Sherman may have done this trick before, but her choice of characters, the size of the prints and the use of themed background makes it all look refreshingly new. The great thing is that she manages to show diversity, not just of herself and her own work but of the human race. It's like legitimate people watching. And it can take a long time for that to become a bore.