STAGING: MAPPLETHORPE

Robert Mapplethorpe
Alan Lynes, 1979
Silver gelatin print
50.8 x 40.6 cm
Courtesy and © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

Appetite is pleased to present STAGING: MAPPLETHORPE, the iconic artist Robert Mapplethorpe’s first solo show in Singapore. The exhibition is a look into the artist’s pursuit of beauty, explored through the human form, flora, and still life.

Mapplethorpe’s compelling oeuvre establishes him as one of the most critically acclaimed and relevant artists of the 20th century, influencing the fields of visual arts, fashion photography, and more broadly, the ways in which we engage with images, for generations to come.

STAGING: MAPPLETHORPE is open to the public from 11 January, 2022 – 9 April, 2022. 

Walk-ins are available on Open Days (Fridays and Saturdays, 11am – 2pm).
Click here to book an exhibition tour.
For private viewings, please email clara@appetitesg.com.

Robert Mapplethorpe

Robert Mapplethorpe (b. 1946 and d. 1989, United States of America) is one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century. He is widely known for his black-and-white photography, capturing an array of subjects, from celebrity portraits, nudes, gay subcultures, to flowers and still-life. Across his vast and provocative oeuvre, Mapplethorpe’s works are recognised for their formal precision and characteristics of classical beauty, captured through a balance and harmony presented in his compositions. Mapplethorpe’s works are in the collections of museums and institutions, such as: Los Angeles County Museum of Art / J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, United States of America; Tate and National Galleries of Scotland, United Kingdom; Museum of Modern Art and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, both in New York, United States of America.

Robert Mapplethorpe
NYC Contemporary Ballet, 1980
Silver gelatin print
35.4 x 35.1 cm
Courtesy and © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

Robert Mapplethorpe
Tyrone, 1987
Silver gelatin print
61 x 50.8 cm
Courtesy and © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

The works featured in this exhibition were shot between 1979 to 1984, at the height of the artist’s career and a tumultuous decade marked by a tectonic shift in economic landscapes, the rise of political conservatism in the United States and the height of the AIDS crisis, the disease that would, ultimately and unfortunately, take the artist’s life. Working against this backdrop, Mapplethorpe is known for his technical rigour and attention to the sculptural, as he transforms the curving and voluptuous shapes of his subjects into moments to beauty through his lens. He sets his models against a neutral background, staged meticulously, and letting in a gradation of light and shadow onto the print. Each photograph serves as an attempt to represent, but also, to immortalise, preserving his subject at the peak of their bloom.

This tension between the transient and eternal is particularly illuminated in Mapplethorpe’s works of flora, as he isolates, lights, and crops the flowers to emphasise on their blossoming beauty. Orchid (1986), for example, captures the delicate flower slanting towards the left, against a dark background while the right of the image is bright from a light, drooping curtain. The single orchid droops and is evocative of the flower’s caducity, yet the photograph holds it in its frail beauty across time.

Robert Mapplethorpe
Orchid, 1986
Silver gelatin print
61 x 50.8 cm
Courtesy and © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

Curated by:
Clara Che Wei Peh
Kanon Ida
Maria Alessio
Marquisha Lu

With special thanks to:
Xavier Hufkens Gallery
Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation