Thirteen is an exhibition of photography by George Chakravarthi, uniting literature and art in one image. Exploring death, drama and identity, the photographer re-imagines 13 characters in Shakespeare’s plays who met their ends through suicide. Opening 20th March at Impressions Gallery, Bradford, the show marks the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth and is the first time the pieces are on display outside of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon.
Chakravarthi is a Delhi-born artist who works with performance and photographic imagery to explore and challenge assumptions of gender, sexual and racial identity. For Thirteen, he has assumed the roles of some of Shakespeare’s doomed characters, including Mark Antony, Othello, Lady Macbeth, Ophelia, Cleopatra, and Romeo and Juliet. Through the works the artist is able to consider the themes of ambiguity of gender and masking of identity, often central to Shakespeare’s plays.
Working behind the scenes with the Royal Shakespeare Company’s costume department, Chakravarthi dramatically reconstructed his identity and took on the guise of each character. The final images, which are displayed in light boxes, are layered with multiple textures and surfaces drawn from diverse sources from cobwebs, mould and precious stones. This detailed process results in a collection of complex jewel-like images, which glow with colour and rich texture, recalling stained glass, monuments or tombs.
George Chakravarthi: Thirteen, 10 March – 14 June, Impressions Gallery, Centenary Square, Bradford, BD1 1SD.
1. Cleopatra © George Chakravarthi / Courtesy of Impressions Gallery.
2. Othello © George Chakravarthi / Courtesy of Impressions Gallery.