All eyes are on the viewer in Alessandro Raho’s current exhibition at the Alison Jacques gallery in London. Born in the Bahamas and now based in London, Raho graduated from Goldsmiths College in 1994, and has subsequently shown his work on both sides of the pond. In this exhibition, his second solo show at Alison Jacques, the subjects of his portraits are isolated against blank backgrounds, staring out from the canvas, challenging us to return their gaze. Although painterly in style, there is an almost photographic quality to his work that recalls Thomas Ruff’s passport snapshots of expressionless faces against white backgrounds.
The works in this show have a melancholy feel but cleverly give a nod to other artists and familiar imagery from the history of art and culture. Among Raho’s subjects (most are friends and family members) is Jessica, who appears in two portraits, first in a T-shirt emblazoned with Warhol’s image of Marilyn and then in a Pollock-esque drip pattern shirt. Adham wears an I Heart NY T- shirt, whilst Nicki is in a Daisy Duck cartoon tee, the pop iconography contrasting with their somber moods. A favorite is Michael Craig-Martin, a touching portrait of his influential tutor from art school, pictured casually with his hands in his pockets. Raho succeeds in cleverly combining and juxtaposing moods and influences whilst retaining an originality of style. Catch the show before it closes on October 6th.
ALISON JACQUES GALLERY
16-18 Berners Street
London W1T 3LN MAP