bal harbour blog

Russell Young Opens at Bal Harbour

Artist Russell Young.

By Tali Jaffe

Guy Hepner opened his eponymous gallery on the third floor of Bal Harbour Shops this Fall with a space dedicated to photography, fashion photography, Pop art and street art. This week, Hepner will unveil its inaugural exhibition—just in time for Art Basel—with a solo show by Pop artist (and jokester) Russell Young.

Entitled “The Last Picture Show,” Young presents a series of diamond dust paintings of Marilyn Monroe—a subject he’s been drawn to for years. This show includes the last remaining Marilyns in the artist’s archive.

We caught up with Young in the weeks leading up to the show to discuss where his celebrity attraction stems from, how he got his start and who is responsible for all of that diamond dust that covers his work.

Tell us about your new show at Guy Hepner.
It’s called “The Last Picture Show,” and only features paintings of Marilyn Monroe. These are the last Marilyn diamond dust paintings from my personal archive, these paintings have never been seen as a whole body of work before.

These paintings are a celebration of Marilyn’s life, they explore the world’s most famous icon and the “American Dream,” they exude beauty, frivolity and focus on the ultimate sex symbol that Marilyn was. However, the tragedy and sadness that was present throughout Marilyn’s life is not ignored, the titles reflect and serve as reminders of the pain that will always surround Marilyn.

The witty titles of the paintings were chosen from the biting satire of Northern “football terrace” humor and song lyrics like “if loneliness meant world acclaim, everyone would know my name,” and “I will let you down, I will make you hurt.”

What is it about celebrities that captivate you?
The rise and fall of the “American Dream” and all its complexities, my fascination in observing how individuals react when the light is shone brightly on them, and the resulting chaos that comes from the excess, that is both brutal and brooding. Marilyn Monroe for instance was both glamorized and chastised in equal measures.

Do you have a favorite face among them?
Marilyn crying.

Who was your first celebrity subject?
Sid Vicious and Elvis Presley, from my Pig Portrait series.

One of your media is diamond dust; how do you procure it?
I close my studio door at night with my new paintings lying on the floor, I believe tinkerbell comes in at night, when I open my studio door in the morning an incredible light shines out, almost blinding. Tinkerbell has covered the paintings in a layer of diamond dust.

You filmed music videos and also shot musicians for album covers and the like. How did you transition from music videos to painting?
By subway, taxi and plane… and a month in Italy sitting on a hill top thinking what to do next.

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