David Stewart


David Stewart, Mummy’s Boy, 2001, Chromogenic colour print © David Stewart

David Stewart, Mummy’s Boy, 2001, Chromogenic colour print © David Stewart


curated by Elio Grazioli

times and locations

Chiostri di San Pietro
via Emilia San Pietro, 44/c
42121 Reggio Emilia

friday 3rd may open from 6.30 pm to midnight; saturday 4th and sunday 5th may from 10 am to midnight; from 6th may to 16th june open on friday from 7 pm to 11 pm; saturday from 10 am to 11 pm, sunday from 10 am to 9 pm


With David Stewart we touch the more disturbing side of estrangement, though on a somewhat lighter note, humorous in the sense of British humour, which in his work is an actual strategy.
Stuff, of course, indicates things of little worth, trifles, stupid things not to be taken seriously, but also the material, the fabric of which something is made or used for padding, and then it can also mean the essence, as in “the stuff of life” no less. For us it is the strangeness, the detail that makes the difference, or the excessive resemblance that becomes unlikely, the singularity that raises the question of what it is we are really looking at, a meaning that seems obvious but at the same time eludes us.
This is the springboard that raises questions about change: how and why do things change, and what does the difference lead to? A mixture of the meaning of life and disturbing malaise in the face of diversity. “Uncanny” here has the Freudian sense of the familiar that all at once seems strange, foreign, distant and yet right around us. And as the uncanny brings back to the surface that which was repressed and buried in the unconscious, so the “strangeness” signals that something is not right, that it could be different.
But to rectify the disturbing, anxiety-inducing side of the uncanny, we have Stewart’s humour. Similarities of form and colour, or of expression, a small incongruity, an improbability, an atmosphere, an attitude, should suffice, while making us smile, to raise questions about reality, about difference and change.

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David Stewart (Lancaster, England, 1958) began his career by photographing punk bands including The Clash and The Ramones. He also took to photographing the passing parade of colourful characters on Morecambe Promenade. This early work directly influenced his now recognisable style. After graduating at Blackpool and The Fylde College, Stewart moved to London in 1981 where he pursued a career in photography as an art form, rapidly establishing himself as one of the UK’s most highly accomplished photographers.
In 1995 he directed and produced a short film Cabbage which was nominated for a BAFTA. Accompanying the film is a series of surrealist photographic images in tribute to the much-maligned vegetable. In 2001 he published a body of work titled Fogeys comprising of kitsch, cartoonlike photographs of people growing old disgracefully. Exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Art London Fogeys won a Silver Award at the Art Directors Club of New York.
Stewart was shortlisted for the National Portrait Prize 2007 exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, London.
In 2009 the project Thrice Removed was published. While still singular and mischievous, the book includes works that are more muted in colour and personal in tone. His recent projects Indecision and Intension return once again to the surreal providing an intriguing study of young women.
Stewart is currently working on the project Teenage Pre-occupation which takes a look at teenagers and the changes they go through. Four images from this series have been accepted into the National Portrait Gallery Portrait Prize in, 2010, 2011 and 2012.