'Self-Portrait as Rodchenko (Based on a Photograph by Mikhail Kaufman, David Mabb in William Morris ‘Fruit’ Production Suit, photographed by Robin Forster and copied in paint by Rajendra Sharma)', David Mabb

Portrait of a man smoking a pipe in his right hand

Tempera on card, 16 x 12cm, 2005

Artist's statement

I have been working with the fabric and wallpaper designs of William Morris for the past eight years. By simplifying and re-contextualising Morris' designs, I have questioned the Utopian idealism of his patterns. In this ongoing collaboration I am interested in Morris as an historical figure as much as being fascinated by his design legacy.

In 'Self-Portrait as Rodchenko (Based on a Photograph by Mikhail Kaufman, David Mabb in William Morris ‘Fruit’ Production Suit, photographed by Robin Forster and copied in paint by Rajendra Sharma)', I have taken the design of the ‘Production Suit’, made by Rodchenko out of a commitment to the Russian Revolution, and had it remade out of Morris’ ‘Fruit’ pattern fabric.

Then, referencing Mikhail Kaufman’s famous photograph of Rodchenko wearing the suit, I have replaced Rodchenko with myself in a new photograph taken by Robin Forster. Rajendra Sharma, an Indian miniaturist from Jaipur, has copied this photograph to produce the miniature painting. The work creates what Walter Benjamin, in ‘The Arcades Project’, calls a dialectical image, ‘that wherein what has been comes together in a flash with the now to form a constellation.’

Biography

David Mabb was born in Hampton Court in 1959. He studied at Hastings College of Further Education 1976-77, Goldsmiths College London 1977-80, Chelsea School of Art London 1980-81. Solo exhibitions include The Decorating Business Oakville Galleries Ontario 2000, A Factory As It Might Be or The Hall Of Flowers Art Gallery of Windsor Ontario 2003, William Morris, “ministering to the swinish luxury of the rich” Whitworth Art Gallery Manchester 2004, Morris in Jaipur: The work of Art in the Context of Hand-made Reproduction, Mandawa Haveli, Jaipur (touring) 2005, Art into Everyday Life Contemporary Art Centre Vilnius 2006.