Russell Young is one of those artists that leave an impression upon you.
I had the pleasure of meeting and shooting for him at his most recent exhibit on Oct 4 held at Taglialatella Gallery in Chelsea.
A gentleman whose quiet, but strong presence forces you to awaken your sensibilities. It’s a powerful person who can hold you a little more responsible, a little more accountable and stand a little taller with just a look.
Russell originally from England, studied photography and made his mark shooting some of the most popular people in music in the late eighties.
Well known in the club scene amongst bands like REM, the Smiths and Bauhaus, magazines starting luring him to do work. Shortly thereafter, he eventually began sessions for record companies. He gained tremendous notoriety for his Faith cover for George Michael. That success catapulted him towards America where he continued to find new ways to express art through his eyes.
While living in Hollywood, a natural progression towards directing music videos soon followed during the height of MTV. As if the success of a fruitful career wasn’t satisfying or challenging enough as a well-established photographer and director, he pushed himself further and began finding an outlet with painting. Now living in NYC, he seemed to find his true calling.
He has said he was able to capture something even deeper with his subjects through his painting, then through photography.
He experiments with different types of mediums, like silk-screens and diamond dust portraits and thrives on exploring his creative limits further each time.
You can’t help but notice the screaming juxtaposition of his massive, larger then life iconic figures of the glamorous and glory of Marilyn, James Dean and Cobain. The bright, glittery and opulent images of tortured, lonely souls that have been glorified and dehumanized, Russell calls us out on it and forces us to once again be held accountable.
As an artist myself, my nature is to observe people; to watch and take them in.
Russell would be no different for me. I intuitively honed in on my subject and took note of how he interacted with all who turned out for him. Respectfully greeting each among the crowd and beyond all the small talk, I suddenly saw a shift.
Someone who appreciates uniqueness and champions people who separate themselves from the herd mentality, my interest too was peeked when two very special ladies came through the room.
One statuesque, super thin with red cascading locks on one side of her head, floated through the room, while the other slight in stature, whose head was shaven, (all but one tiny pony-tail in the back) had an air of rebellion and commanded all the attention in the room.
Russell soon gravitated towards them and I could almost feel he met his next muse and I was witness to this creative consciousness in action.
And that is what I love about art. You can study the techniques, study the craft, study the history, but when it comes down to it, it is the artist who beats to his own drum and finds inspiration in things most people may shy away from.