Stuart Pearson Wright Wants You to Smile

LOOKBOOKS contributor explores the fantastical tattooed world of artist Stuart Pearson Wright. Check out the gallery of weirdly cool portraits below.

If there’s anything that separates a celebrity from the proletariat, its his or her ability to turn on the megawatt smile at the mere suggestion of a flash bulb. Artist Stuart Pearson Wright has built a small exhibition of portraits around the idea of capturing this  automated response and the ensuing awkwardness and ambiguity that results in simply asking people to say cheese.

With a lick of faux-Hollywood gloss about them, his subjects are grinning and bearing it in a kind of toothsome, medicated trance which horribly reminds me of Britney Spears, mid-breakdown. Wright’s female subjects are all tits, teeth and blow-dried hair so its a relief to move on to his smaller exhibition of tattoo portraits, where people seem much happier, you know, just getting their tats out. Wright selected subjects according to old school stereotypes; the circus strongman, the tattooed lady, the side-show freak…And they seem much more content than the freaks in frames on the opposite wall.But on the way out of the gallery, you have to pass those weird rictus grins again, with their airbrushed FUN TIMES smiles and surfaces dusted with real diamonds. It’s like we can’t believe anyone’s having a good time until we see it plastered all over their face and we’ve photographed it, tagged it, shared it, liked it… Or, as Wright put is; “the collective, hysterical conspiracy to appear happy which blights our visual world with endless images of disingenuousness.” Basically the same thing, yeh? Stuart Pearson Wright is on show at the Riflemaker, London until February 15.

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