Joe Webb’s collages are a truly fascinating spectacle, simple, yet so very effective in combining, recontextualising and appropriating found images to attach a new level of engagement, opposing the original intentions of the imagery. The surreal composite images, sourced and cut from collected print samples, obtained from charity shops and book stores, collaboratively work together to create a bizarre, fun and imaginative connotation attached to the cut and paste mentality behind this hands-on creative experience. Webb’s work seems to maintain a process of fluent transference from imagination to medium, as an almost materialised extension of his innermost workings, but ultimately, all guided by the obtainment of sources, providing a random selection of images to work with.
All of his collage is meticulously found, cut and arranged, boasting no photoshop dependancy, steering away from his graphic artist background. Without the capability to re-size or the convenient option to undo, it makes it extremely difficult to combine one image with the next, the connection between the sourced material requires a keen eye for composition; aesthetically, but also within the content. The photoshop lifeline utilised by the artists, seems to be a rapidly increasing feature within modern collage, and it seems a strong attribute for Joe Webb to be reverting back to the countryside tracks of material collage. Holding a more appreciative and hands-on understanding of his imaginative process, now all but shadowed by the concrete highways of digital manipulation.
Joe Webb held his first exhibition on the 11th March at the Saatchi Gallery, London. Entitled ‘Paper Cuts’ the show included roughly 50 works which utilised a mix of cross-media printing techniques to create a surreal and metaphorical collection of collage. Emblematic of our society’s political issues and the impact of human influence, Webb frequently features 1940s and 50s printed ephemera, ripe with suggestive and narrative connotations. The fact that such dated print was previously used in a serious manner and the idea that we have come a long way since invokes humour. Each cutout, collectively works together to create a comical narrative that aids the realisation of a slightly careless, stubborn, blind and some what dim-witted western normality, regularly bringing light to issues such as global warming, war and consumerism.
In the example of ‘Bang!’, Webb seeks to shine light on the issue of nuclear warfare, military-driven ideology and it’s impending yet discreet impact on our younger generations innocence. The two children, once again sticking to the 1940s print, are seen posing with a balloon. This particular cut-out holds playful, childish and care-free connotations, but, when the notion of the impending bang, tense in narrative, is fused with the background imagery of such negative influence it makes us question the the impact of military action and its destructive consequences. There is a darker, more disconcerting portrayal beneath the comical, colourful and fascinating compositions which seems exposed through the satirical sense of humour included in each collage.
Above you see a collection of collage created by myself. With influence from Joe Webb’s work and exhibition, the process of appropriation, along with the cut-and-stick mentality, has been a theme I was keen to follow. Using a collection of books, obtained from charity shops, I was able re-contextualise the original content to create surrealist representations, something of a dream-like state, but relative to modern society, its history, but most of all, human life. The collage frequently references hollywood films, in which society is overemphasised, over-glamourised and falsely represented, the contrast with other elements distort the original image’s intended means and are the stark difference in content induces a questioning of modernity and how our affection for adventure and experience gets lost amidst our interaction with technology and media.
My interest in 1940s and 50s print is something I look to include in my final print but find it hard to introduce multiple sources above three, the different sources do not link in size, content or meaning and with no adjusting available its hard to create a narrative. When I find source material I cut and categorise them, people, backgrounds nature and space, this is my way of digesting the books and find the process almost therapeutic. Sticking with the hands-on approach is something I look to continue but will need to collect more source material in order to do so, a lot more.
Mutti, G, ‘Paper Cuts: The New Collection’, 2015, AnOther Magazine [Viewed 9th Apr 2015]
Available at: www.anothermag.com/art-photography/7168/paper-cuts-the-new-collage-by-joe-webb
Webb, J, ‘Paper Cuts’ Exhibition, 2015, Saatchi Gallery, London
Webb, J, ‘Joe Webb: About’ Joe Webb Online, 2015 [Viewed 9th Apr 2015]
Available at: http://www.joewebbart.com/about/