J.W. Anderson’s Disobedient Bodies

Jonathan Anderson considers ways in which the human form has been reconceived by artists and designers from across the 20th and 21st century at the Hepworth Wakefield, this Autumn. Disobedient Bodies is shaped by a long-standing passion for contemporary art, and the underlying questions of gender and identity that are posed by his own fashion collections.

J.W. Anderson was founded in 2008, based upon the principles of offering a modern interpretation of masculinity and femininity through conscious cross-pollination between menswear and womenswear element.

As a collaboration with 6a architects, each space within the gallery offer a sequence of contrasting experiences for its audiences. The series brings to light how practitioner, whilst working different mediums, have come together to reinvent the human form, touching on the surrounding issues such as the role of media in shaping perceptions and the abstraction of boundaries as the break down in contemporary society.

Five distinctive and notorious looks from Anderson’s experimental and influential A/W 2013 collection are included, deliberate transformations of the standardised menswear silhouette. Introducing unique and non-stereotypical design features, such as ruffled details- more commonly associated with womenswear, the collection invite viewers into a “the research lab” by which the artist demonstrated the range of sources that nurture his creativity. Closely packed with objects from his collection,  images from regular collaborator Jamie Hawkeswork and a range of film projections and books are all displayed as a source of visible and three-dimensional inspiration.

The largest of the gallery spaces displays a number of engaging and thought-provoking sculptures, juxtaposed to examine how the very physical makeup that separates humanity from other species has been reimagined throughout history. There is also a specially commissioned installation, devised to encourage visitor interactions with a wide assortment of material and shapes.

Anderson states: “This is a rare and exciting opportunity for me to bring together some of the works of art and fashion that long inspired my work and to see what happens when these objects rub up against each other. I want the exhibition to mirror the speed and unexpected encounters that characterise the way in which we consume images today, as well as being a space in which to investigate ideas of gender and identity that have been an ongoing part of my creative practice”.

Other artists in the show shed light on Anderson’s artistic vision, including figurative sculptures from Jean Arp, Louise Bourgeois, Lynn Chadwick, Naum Gabo, Henry Moore, and fashion pieces from recognised designers such as Christian Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier- and Helmut Lang.

J.W. Anderson’s Disobedient Bodies, The Hepworth Wakefield, 18 March–18 June. Visit: www.hepworthwakefield.org

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1.  Jamie Hawkesworth, The Thinleys (2015). Courtesy of The Hepworth Wakefield.