At The Gallery is proud to present to you the very first exhibition by British artist Phil Griffin. Phil Griffin was the first male dancer of Jan Fabre's Troubleyn theatre company. He subsequently had a hugely successful career as a creative director in London and Los Angeles. A career in which he worked with Prince, Rihanna, Adele, Kevin Spacey, Paul McCartney, Jon Bon Jovi and Amy Winehouse. Now 30 years later he was invited by Jan Fabre to witness the creation of the Mount Olympus project as artist in residence at Troubleyn Laboratorium and to allow it to serve as the inspiration behind a new work of art. The result is the exhibition Surrender, comprising 40 photos and one unique feature length documentary.
The series of works in Surrender are all based on the total and willing submission of human beings to themselves or to others. This is a surrender that finally leads to the revealing of the inner self. The search into what is hidden behind the face, eyes and skin of a person. Phil Griffin observes people without norms and values and allows the inner prehistoric and primal man to be expressed. As a result, the dividing line between man and animal, the space between the material and immaterial seems blurred, meaning that observers will live out the peculiar experience of no longer finding or recognising many of the predictable elements that he or she thinks makes us human.
“A good picture is not taken, it is given.”
“I believe this Surrender series is about truly giving in to a shared vulnerability. About finding trust in letting go. As a process I believe that only by offering my own vulnerability will my collaborator offer me their own. This presents in the form of a deep truth shared between us. It is sometimes ephemeral, intangible, even disturbing, but always deeply open. Often the portraits feel like conversations rather than photographs, like feelings rather than pictures. For me it is the single moment that both I as observer and performer as observed relinquish all power and for one single moment trust in each other completely that our shared truth with all its fear, hope, tragedy and beauty can be revealed.”
The photos are so powerful that they present painting-like characteristics. In these works, Phil Griffin successfully combines drama, fragility and stability in an utterly unique manner that is all his own.
The companion and trigger of the exhibition is the film Surrender created during his period as artist in residence at Troubleyn. In this the photos become moving images. It depicts a wonderful conversation between two artists who have not seen each other for nearly 30 years. A conversation of revelation, epiphany and precision to the concept of honesty as a life choice, the film is a conversation that is both verbal and non-verbal. Surrender conveys the feeling of a life: time, (im)mortality and the final surrender of man not only to his fears but also to his true potential.
Phil Griffin was born on December 8, 1964 in Wegberg, Germany. He lives and works in London and Los Angeles. He studied at the Ballet Rambert in London, after which he danced at Troubleyn / Jan Fabre for 3 years. After his dance career came to an end, he worked at the BBC as artistic creative director before starting up his own Art House & Production Company, entitled Alchemy. It is in this capacity that he won the trust of Amy Winehouse among others, gaining access to private lives as an exclusive photographer. And so it was that he was asked to go on tour with Jon Bon Jovi for 3 years and he eventually created a book, documentary and video clips for the artist. Prince, Adele, Rihanna, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Dolly Parton, Helen Mirren, Kevin Spacey, Sir Paul McCartney, Mariah Carey and Ethan Hawke have also worked with Phil Griffin.
The exhibition Surrender is the first exhibition by Phil Griffin.
Public opening: Saturday 3 September 2016, 6pm - 9pm. (in the presence of the artist)
Pre-opening: Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 August 2016.
On the occasion of the performance of Mount Olympus at the Bourla Schouwburg theatre in Antwerp, the gallery and the presentation will be open 24 hours a day on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 August.
Interviews with Phil Griffin can be arranged by appointment as of August 11 in the gallery, via email or by phone. Please contact us using the contact details below.
An exhibition catalogue will be available.