When the saints come to Berlin
Today, it is already clear that Berlin is one of the most important capitals of art in Europe. The city itself architecturally ranks as the highlands of craftsmanship in this field. Berlin attracts artists from all over the world. They live, work and show their work here. In no other European city there is so many galleries as in Berlin. Now there is more than 400. And it's not just about the galleries located in the fashionable street in the city center, but there is also many small, scattered and hidden throughout the city and it’s less central districts.
In the heart of Neukölln which is also called the immigration ghetto, where you can hear a cacophony of languages in the streets: German, Turkish, Arabic and Polish, you can find as well RISE Gallery.
In large format photographs a young artist Lee Wagstaff documented his collection of tattoos, that he gathered over a period of five years. His entire body is covered with symbols and patterns. The interest of Lee Wagstaff deals with the formation and development of geometric forms and ornaments and how they seem to appear by chance in different and widely separated cultures and religions. The tattoo sees itself as a medium by which the body as a sign of support is the carrier of the message. Human body, in this case the body of the artist, is transformed in a work of art.
In addition to the photographs RISE Berlin also shows a cloth that the artist created by mixing paints with his own blood. Like Shroud of Turin bears the traces of torment – this life-size image of the artist is called Shroud and was came at the price of blood. Furthermore, if we know that Lee Wagstaff is a strict Catholic, the theme of his works is no longer a mystery. In his other creation: The Twelve Apostles – he presents a series of large scale portraits of tattooed men. The allusion to the most important relic and characters of the Catholic Church is not only a provocation. Is it a blasphemy? Yes. Is it art? Again, the answer is: yes. Yes, it's art and that of the highest quality content both ideologically and aesthetically. In his works Wagstaffs raises great religious and universal topics.
The exhibition at RISE Berlin is the first presentation of Lee Wagstaff works in Germany. Originally from the UK, the artist studied at the Royal College of Art in London and at the Kyoto City University of Arts. In 2006 he moved to Berlin. At the moment he is transforming a former barber's shop to his own studio and leaning what a stuntman may need. By knowing how to fall properly, jump, how to make cars explode and how to burn your own body, he wants to start a new series of photographs. This will be his next work. If he manages to find a suitable space in the meantime, he plans to bring to Berlin the twelve apostles and show this monumental work in the capital of European art. And when the saints come to Berlin, I'll be there!
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