London Exhibitions. Sebastian Horsley at The Outsiders. The Whoresley Show. 9th August – 14th September 2013. 8 Greek Street, Soho, London UK. If you have the chance, don’t miss this different event Yareah Magazine friends. It’s worth!
The Outsiders presents an overdue exhibition of the work of noted libertine, dandy, writer and artist Sebastian Horsley.
Sebastian was a pillar of the Soho community from the time he moved from Yorkshire to study at St Martin’s College in the early 1980s until his sad demise in 2010. A retrospective in the heart of London’s most colourful district fits as sharply as one of his trademark velvet suits, an especially sartorial example of which will be on display. Guests will be encouraged to dress the part.
The exhibition will feature paintings from Sebastian’s highly publicised solo shows The Flowers of Evil and Crucifixion alongside photographic self-portraits, personal effects and the film of said crucifixion in the Philippine Islands. The Whoresely Show is monickered after Sebastian’s consummate affection for prostitutes, about which he infamously wrote in The Observer newspaper.
Sebastian’s flower paintings brood with menace, reminding viewers that nature’s charm masks an ancient, indefatigable force. Each has been described as “a fresh assault on the impossible; their aim to capture a sense of the void, that haunting moment where violence and beauty merge.” Painterly and lavish, let alone spiritual, in a manner considered highly unsuitable by the art establishment at the time, they are testament to Sebastian’s dauntlessness and breadth of imagination. Writing in The Times, critic Brian Appleyard described Sebastian’s flower paintings as “an attempt to reinvest art with beauty, urgency and power.”
Sebastian’s millennial show Crucifixion was his piece de resistance. In 2000 he took part in the Good Friday rituals of the northern Filipino villages. Each year volunteers undergo self-flagellation and time spent hanging nailed to a cross, in a ceremony highly frowned upon by the church and local government. Microphones carry the screams of the penitent across a crowd of gawping tourists as nails are hammered through their feet and hands. Sebastian refused recommended painkillers and fell unconscious with pain. When the cross was raised the footrest beneath him broke and he fell from it, his limp body only his crucifier tried to help him – crowds were superstitious. The Daily Telegraph called it “the most literal exercise in suffering since Van Gogh cut off his ear.”
Employing the same opulent palette as The Flowers of Evil, the Crucifixion paintings bear a weighty sense of final judgement and catharsis. Number Five features Sebastian’s body hanging from the gibbet wreathed in phoenix-feather orange, yellow and red.
Whilst Sebastian pursued the romantic ideal of an excessive lifestyle, his paintings on display will be a grave reminder of his artistic merit. But The Whoresely Show remains a celebration of the man’s life in general: to quote his fellow sociable epicurean Catallus: “Our host decrees no water here.”
About the artist
Sebastian Horsley was born to heavy-drinking but comfortably well-off parents in Hull, Great Britain in 1962. He studied art at St Martin’s College, London becoming a stalwart of the social circuit in nearby Soho. After leaving university he worked with The Getaway Exchange, a project using art to work with former convicts and drug addicts. His first exhibition at the Grosvenor Gallery featured studies inspired by diving with great white sharks in Australia. The acclaimed Les Fleurs du Mal and Crucifixion followed, placing Sebastian’s work in the private collections of novelist Will Self and songwriters Nick Cave and Bryan Ferry. Horsley was also a writer. His column Sewer Life ran in the Erotic review from 1998 to 2004. A sex advice column in The Observer was cancelled after manifold complaints. His memoir, Dandy in the Underworld was published in 2007. A one-man play of the same title, based on Horsley’s book and written and directed by Tim Fountain, opened at the Soho Theatre in London on 15th June 2010. Horsley was discovered dead at his flat the following day having suffered a drugs overdose: his friends ruled out suicide as “Sebastian would not have missed the opportunity to leave a note.” Just before this untimely death Horseley had lambasted the decline of Soho in an interview with The Independent: “the air used to be clean and the sex used to be dirty. Now it’s the other way around.”
**The Outsiders Galleries, Newcastle and London Re-launching the first ever Lazarides gallery spaces under a new heading in July 2010, The Outsiders sells affordable originals, prints, collectibles and books from the Lazarides stable of artists and more. Each of the galleries features project spaces showcasing works from new and emerging talents, as well as offering established Lazarides artists a space to present experimental shows. Space is also given over to an ambitious release schedule of editioned works.
These small run editions, hand finished prints, and works on paper are produced in our own Wapping studio, Execution Dock. The book Outsiders is out now published by Thames & Hudson and the organisation is featured in Oscar-nominated documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop. Incorporating the online store www.theoutsiders.net and the spaces on Londonʼs Greek Street and in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, The Outsiders welcomes over ten thousand visitors annually.