Robert Mapplethorpe’s name is synonymous with boundary-breaking themes. His highly subversive portraits took the art world by storm in the eighties, addressing taboo issues of love, sex, the body, and homosexuality in a time when the AIDS epidemic swept across the globe, changing it forever. Over three decades later, Mapplethorpe’s photographs have proven as timeless as they were the day he snapped the shutter; still holding up a mirror to current issues of sex and gender in a political climate once again rife with changing conceptions of meaning, appearance, and acceptance.
Olga Korper Gallery’s seventh solo exhibition of Mapplethorpe’s work, Fluid Beauty, investigates the continued relevance that his photographs have in contemporary culture. In an age where notions of identity are being continuously asserted, challenged, and changed, the function and necessity of traditional gender roles has become a fervently argued debate. Fluid Beauty explores the strength of women and the vulnerability of men beyond political opinion, personal definition, and public expression. The exhibition addresses preconceived rules about what it really means to be male, to be female, and to belong, both within the body and within society. Fluid Beauty seeks out androgyny, finding beauty in the absence of definition.