This spring, The Bowes Museum will host Jonathan Yeo’s new exhibition: Skin Deep. The venue is situated in Barnard Castle, a rural market town in Teesdale, County Durham. Jonathan Yeo’s new exhibition is an expansion on his Surgery Series, which delves into the multifaceted topic of modern cosmetic procedures.
The British artist taught himself to paint whilst recovering from Hodgkin’s disease. He rose to fame in his early 20s, eventually establishing himself as one of the best contemporary portraitists in the world. Yeo has received critical acclaim for his depictions of public figures such as Nicole Kidman, Dennis Hopper, Tony Blair, David Cameron and various members of the royal family.
Skin Deep incorporates some of Yeo’s already acclaimed work and pairs it with more recent creations—mainly oil paintings. This artwork maps the progression made in aesthetic enhancement and investigates modern society’s ongoing quest for physical perfection. More specifically, Yeo’s work takes a closer look at patients in pre and post-operative situations. He reportedly used archived images and first-hand observations acquired from surgeons in order to gain a more authentic perspective on the subject. Commenting on the new exhibition at the Bowes Museum, Yeo said: ‘Rather than shock tactics I’m looking at the way we feel about subversive images of beauty, as the topic of plastic surgery is so subtle and nuanced, touching our ideals of beauty and body image as well as the complex psychology behind it.’
Yeo draws attention to the surgeon’s lines being drawn onto the patients’ skin within his art, signposting where the flesh will be cut and sculpted. In this sense, Yeo denotes that surgeons, in their own way, are artists themselves. The juxtaposition of the ancient oil painting techniques and the advanced medical procedures portrayed within the artwork makes for a thought-provoking experience.
Yeo’s new exhibition will run from 10 March until 17 June 2018. The show will be accompanied by an exciting programme of events that explore the deepening issue of body image and its effect on the nation’s health.
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