For this new series Sherman has assembled a cast of uniquely individual characters on large photographic murals, marking a departure from her usual artistic practice using the framed photograph as a format.

Since the beginning of her career in the mid 1970’s Sherman has used herself as the ‘canvas’ in her works, combining the roles of director, model and photographer to create an array of intriguing and provocative personas. Whilst the photographs might feature Sherman as the sole human subject, they do not, however, convey her likeness in the way a self-portrait would. Quite the performer, in this latest work Sherman captures the subtle distortions of her face and body on camera, rendering her almost unrecognizable as she adopts outrageous guises and utilises her recent embrace of digital techniques to manipulate the scale of each character, their features, and their surroundings.

The various personas animating this new body of work were created as shrines to nondescript, eccentric characters that might also be seen to denote sentries, guarding the entrance to some fabled land, casting ambiguous and disconcerting glances at the viewer. The monochrome character in the three-figure panel is the only member of the cast to seemingly blend into the background, inviting the viewer into this surreal universe with its backdrop of faux-French décor populated by a rabble of hippie/circus types. The combined costumes, poses and facial expressions change dramatically from one figure to the next, enabling the viewer to observe the artist’s permutations of identity from a seated fragile middle-aged lady to an unconvincing medieval soldier. Each character poses against an incongruous backdrop – a landscape image printed in black and white – reminiscent of ‘toile’: a type of decorating pattern frequently used on home furnishings and wallpaper. Toile was traditionally used to tell a story yet the bucolic settings in Sherman’s new work create quite the opposite effect, heightening the ambiguity and alienation of the characters while further complicating the narrative.

Sprüth Magers Gallery
7A Grafton Street, London, W1S 4EJ
Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10am-6pm
Admission: Free


Cindy Sherman, Sprüth Magers,