The Captive Body is a joint multi-media exhibition curated by Kalina Kossowska. The exhibition features prints by Joe Cruz and Oliver Sewell, graphics and posters by Rafal Olbinski and a video installation by Anja Olofgörs. The artists experiment with different representations of the female body which they see as repressed, controlled and confined. This concerns not only the physicality of the body, but also the identity and sexuality which is restricted and framed. Although the artists communicate these concepts quite differently, they manage to achieve a coherent representation of the captive female body that balances on the verge of the psychic, evoking anxiety in the viewer. The artists use appropriation, repetition, perspective and the surreal to communicate the concept in a meaningful and intriguing way.

Joe Cruz has recently exhibited his works at the ‘Illustrative’ Biennale in Berlin. He uses archival photographs and pastels to appropriate the image. In a sense, the pastel layer can be seen as a protective mask taken on by the figures to escape the necessity of identifying and categorising themselves. It can be also seen as an aggressive layer, imposed by the Western society on the “others”, restricting and framing them as different. Anja Olofgörs, whose installation was exhibited in the UCL Art Museum, communicates with monotonic movements, which repeated to infinity, take on a psychic nature, restricting and confining the female body within its own physicality. Oliver uses a unique perspective, showing the body as being pressed against a surface, appearing aggressive and violent in its treatment.

The final artist, Rafal Olbinski, is renowned for creating the posters for the New York City Opera and international Jazz Festivals. He obtained an International Oscar for “The World’s Most Memorable Poster” in 1994 and his work is featured in the MoMA collection. His style can be described as surrealist, with a strong aesthetical connection to René Magritte’s practice. Norman Rea Gallery will be honoured to exhibit eight original and watermarked graphics and four original posters made for the NYC Opera. Olbinski’s most explored theme is the female body. Mostly presented as nude, it forms the focal point in each of the representations, communicating the fear, longing, and inner confusion of the female character, often contained within the narratives led by men, presenting a female body treated as an aesthetical and divine object of beauty and admiration.

This is what the curator of MoMA, Christopher Mount, had to say about Olbinski’s practice:

“Olbinski’s luminescent works are painstakingly executed and contradict any trend towards the fast and superficial. Most significantly, Olbinski is able to stubbornly remain loyal to his own beliefs. He has managed to preserve a level of personal expression that is uncommon today in the graphic arts while maintaining a level of integrity and substance that keeps him immune from the merely fashionable.”