SHOWstudio presents an exhibition of Nick Knight’s fine art prints. Curated to celebrate Knight's dynamic collaborations with Alexander McQueen, and to coincide with the opening of Savage Beauty at the Victoria & Albert Museum, the exhibition showcases Knight's arresting re-imaginings of McQueen's collections.
Similarly daring in their approach to fashion, the pair have been equally revered in their respective fields. In their hands, fashion, flesh and form were as malleable as each roll of fabric, length of film or digital file. Bodies and bodices were slashed, structured and stitched to produce imagery and attire flung from the furthest corners of the psyche.
Printed in monumental scale, the visual tapestries that Knight created for McQueen are being shown together for the first time at SHOWstudio’s gallery in Knightsbridge. Knight's futuristic rendering of Devon Aoki in McQueen for the cover of Visionaire 20 (1997) is one of his most enduring. The young model appears as a wild cyborg one-eyed geisha whose forehead has been sliced open and is held together with a safety pin. In a surreal twist, the wound does not spring forth droplets of blood but flowers with pink cherry blossoms. The following year, the photographer and designer produced an iconic editorial for McQueen’s guest edited issue of Dazed & Confused magazine titled Fashion-Able (1998). Unprecedented within the realm of fashion, the project featured a number of disabled models in order to challenge ideas of what can be considered beautiful. In Knight's striking compositions, dancer David Toole’s pose is one of pure strength and agility while athlete Aimee Mullins’ alabaster skin merges with fibreglass prosthesis in a display of pure ardour, accomplishment and allure. They signalled the forging of a future in which human value and aesthetic beauty are not determined in comparison to a myth of a perfect norm.
The images featured in this exhibition are some of the most elaborate and technically engineered of the pair's generation and during an interview with Knight for SHOWstudio in 2009, McQueen revealed that he saw illuminations of his dreams and his nightmares in them. In Blade of Light (2004) Knight interpreted McQueen's vision of a bus queue of people wearing his Spring/Summer 2004 Deliverance collection being struck by a shooting comet. Michael Clark was enlisted to choreograph the moment of sheer energy of the strike and it was performed by members of his company alongside models such as Lily Cole. The resulting tableau embodies unbridled chaos and beautiful order simultaneously.
For McQueen’s celebrated Spring/Summer 2010 collection Plato’s Atlantis, (which was the first fashion show to be streamed live via the internet and was done so on SHOWstudio.com), Knight photographed Raquel Zimmerman beneath an undulating mass of snakes. Again the boundaries of the human body were blurred and the highly complex digital print on her apparel becomes almost like a second skin. In Knight's dazzling description of pattern and colouring, Zimmerman’s body, the garment and the wider natural world are synthesised into one hypnotic fantasy.
The exhibition opens to the public on 19 March and will run until 5 June 2015. It is located at SHOWstudio Shop, 19 Motcomb Street, London, SW1X 8LB. It runs in conjunction with SHOWstudio.com's Unseen McQueen series, showcasing previously unreleased photo-shoot footage and interviews from Nick Knight's archive and Illustrating McQueen, a series of commissioned artworks inspired by McQueen's most iconic designs.