Jonathan Yeo: Skin Deep at The Bowes Museum

Jonathan Yeo: Skin Deep at The Bowes Museum

10 March – 17 June 2018

The Bowes Museum is pleased to announce a UK exclusive exhibition, Jonathan Yeo: SKIN DEEP, opening in Spring 2018.

British artist Jonathan Yeo is acclaimed worldwide for his depictions of public figures including Dennis Hopper, Nicole Kidman, Cara Delevingne, Damien Hirst, Malala Yousafzai, Tony Blair, and members of the Royal family, amongst others.

Alongside his portraiture, Yeo has explored more conceptual themes in his Surgery Series, depicting in the classical medium of oil paint, the intricacies and complex issues surrounding the current cult for cosmetic surgery and the quest for physical ‘perfection’. 

SKIN DEEP will be the first extensive major survey of Yeo’s Surgery Series, and will include well known and acclaimed works, as well as recent oil paintings charting the latest developments in aesthetic enhancement. Working from archival photos and observing cosmetic surgeons at first hand, the works show patients in pre- and post-operative states. Drawing on his long-held fascination with physiognomy and notions of human identity, Yeo presents these revealing paintings, and says:

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.”

In Yeo’s works that depict the lines drawn onto the skin of the patient, showing where the flesh will be cut and sculpted, the marks allude to the hand of the surgeon and the necessary preciseness that the procedures demand. On the creative links between artist and Surgeon Yeo has stated: 

I’m documenting the artistry, as plastic surgeons really understand the structure of the human body. In the most fundamental way, they’re sculpting with bodies, and there’s an artistry, combined with a casual savagery, to the way they mark their patients before surgery."

Mariella Frostrup writes: “What I find really interesting in them is that you’re marrying the most ancient of arts with the most cutting edge of our advances in what we might loosely call science".

The exhibition, which opens on 10 March 2018, running until 17 June 2018, will be accompanied by an exciting events programme which will allow audiences to explore the wider issue of body image and its consequences for health and wellbeing.

For further information or images please contact sheila.dixon@thebowesmuseum.org.uk or call 01833 690606.

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