Mother Night (2018) – National Portrait Gallery
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Mother Night (2018)

Regular price £800.00
  • Edition of 100
  • Five colour photo-lithograph on 300gsm Somerset satin paper. Produced by Paupers Press, London
  • 51.3 cm x 40.4 cm (20.1 x 15.9 inches)
  • Signed, numbered and dated by the artist on the reverse

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'Mother Night' originated in an earlier collage from the 'Dark Star' series. In these collages from 1979-80 the figures of mainly male film stars were cut out from colour portraits featured in pictorial film annuals of the 1950s. Often in these portraits the featured film stars were photographed against standard photographic studio backdrops sometimes involving illusionistic pictorial grounds. One of the most used of these was one representing a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. It was employed ubiquitously for cowboys in westerns or for masculine outdoor film characters. 

Around the late 80s these cutouts were being used in combination with other images and at that time, as the result of finding some new film annuals in which sky backgrounds appeared, I decided to return to these cutouts with a particular focus on these backgrounds. These were combined with a small collection of pre war photo etchings of night skies in early books of astronomy. These became the nocturnal interiors to the day-time exteriors of the 50s celebrity portraits. 'Father Sky' was one of the first of these, using the fake daytime sky background over a night scene. 'Mother Night' was the companion piece to this. 

Returning to the image as a lithograph was an opportunity to modulate this edge between interior and exterior, foreground and background and night and day. I was able to more exactly nuance the colour as well as doing justice to a graphic seamlessness, which was the original intention of the piece. The colour enhancement of the lithographic process was also a way of harmonising the disjunction between the technicolor exterior and the pre war photogravure simulations of the nocturnal sublime.

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