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Parkhurst may be the apotheosis of upper-middle-class self-satisfaction, but scratch deep enough and a dark substratum is revealed. Ben Skinner has cut through the superficial gloss to reveal an alternative photographic vision from deep within his northern-suburbs abode. His sense of composition borders on psychotic, yet it also conveys a kinship with the subjects he portrays.
Skinner’s work exemplifies a reaction to prevailing trends and ideas. From images of single figures in austere environments through to large casts in elaborate settings, he has a multifarious archive that leaves a marked impression. His acute awareness of theatricality elevates the ordinary person to a level of perfection rarely seen in South African photography today.
Rhetorical Self offers no anaesthetic to dull the viewer’s sensibility. The operation awaits – surgery undertaken by women who normally frequent the local bistros. His fascination with the human form finds expression through capturing real people with compelling features, emphasising their raw nature rather than representing a predictable aesthetic. His ability to create habitats that expose these traits is his greatest asset.
Skinner has developed a style that is provocative and disturbing, mercurial and curious, often darkly humorous and utterly distinctive. Res Gallery unveils Skinner’s first solo show revealing a talent that may well attract controversy through its singular rawness and honesty.