Cleverly Collaged Portraits Layer Vintage Ads and Magazine Spreads into Dramatic Daydreams
November 18, 2021
With a flair for spectacle and clandestine activities, the perfectly coiffed characters of Shane Wheatcroft’s collages face a deluge of intrigue and drama. The Kent-based artist snips vintage ads and editorial spreads that become the musings of professionally photographed subjects: a woman replays an excruciating party scene, a businessman envisions a wholesome family gathering, and quite a few protagonists imagine scenarios they likely keep covert.
Having worked with the medium for the last five years, Wheatcroft boasts a body of work that includes a broad array of collages, from bold typographic sayings to cheeky compositions that use ad slogans and outmoded headlines to poke fun at social conventions. Surreal and witty, the new portraits feature imagery from periodicals published between 1945 and 1975. They’re spurred by “being a big fan of John Stezaker and buying old movie annuals that had stunning publicity shots of film stars on plain backgrounds. The recent series I’m making is really my attempt to reflect everyday dramas and scenarios through the medium of collage,” he says. “They’re kind of like a hybrid of Dalí’s portrait of Mae West and Coronation Street.”
The main portrait sets the tone for the piece, Wheatcroft tells Colossal, with the background image, furniture, and figures pasted on top. These additional elements compose an abstract representation of a face and generally feature a single eye peering through a television set or frame on the wall. “I’ll often have a song or personal experience in my head that’ll become the theme of the piece,” the artist says. “I can spend hours searching for an image of the right-sized chair or person that will fit. It’s a bit like making a jigsaw puzzle and hunting for the missing pieces.”
Represented by Lilford Gallery in Canterbury, Wheatcroft has been sharing a variety of flat collages and 3D diorama-style pieces—see these layered works up close on Instagram—and he also has a few pieces available for purchase on Artfinder. (via Kottke)
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