The Pope of Trash is back! john waters brings his exquisite bad taste to the heart of mayfair, in his first ever london show
The master of the pencil thinned moustache, and lothario of cult noir has turned his hand to art! Mr.John Waters is back in the big smoke! Debuting his first ever London exhibition, ‘Beverly Hills John’ still oozing with the same mischievous and mordant wit for which he’s so adored, but this time in a slightly reflective mood.
Exploring childhood fame, false glamour, the horrors of nouveau-riche excess, and his ongoing sexual attractions. All whilst asking the question “Since celebrity is the only obscenity left in the art world, where do I fit in?”. By making people laugh he reckons, and of course with a dash of his beautifully bad taste, and unusual penchant for shock, sex, and celebrity!
Syringed stars of the silver screen take centre stage, depicting Water’s fascination with vanity and Hollywood’s obsession for plastic surgery. An overblown Justin Bieber appears in ‘Justin’s Had Work” , beside a nipped, and severely tucked back Lassie in ‘Reconstructed Lassie’. Water’s goes under the knife himself in the personal portrait and exhibition namesake ‘Beverly Hills John’ featuring himself extremely cosmetically enhanced, with flowing copper wig, a plumped up trout pout, and gravity-defying cheek implants!
Else where, there’s everything from vamped up/ porno reworking’s of classics like “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” reimagined as “Clitty Clitty Bang Bang”. A stroller decorated with the names of 60’s and 70’s San Francisco gay hotspots such as ‘Toilet’ and ‘Blow Buddies’, accessorised with bondage buckles and ejaculating penis’s. A photograph of the Kennedy’s descending from Air Force One, followed by the Grim Reaper from Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, and a ‘B movie/film reel’ type work ‘Shoulda!’ featuring Princess Diana, flanked by Whitney Houston, Anna Nicole and Amy Winehouse with the phrase “She Shoulda Said No!” .
But not all sass, ‘Beverly Hill’s John’ isnt without nostalgia or sentimentality. X-rated becomes G-Rated in the charmingly unaffected children’s rework and table reading of his cult film Pink Flamingoes, newly titled “Kiddie Flamingoes.”Or with the 8 1/2 feet of wall space, taken up by a recreation of a ruler John has kept from the first screening of Fellini’s film by the same name in his hometown of Baltimore.
When asked by the Guardian about why he loved Fellini so much and recreated the ruler John comments “He inspired me because he had a local cast in his movies, people who typically weren’t movie stars. That’s what I did too.” he goes on “I loved that movie. Fellini was a little lofty for a teenage boy but certainly he was a huge influence.We used to watch his movies tripping on acid. Juliet of the Spirits is the best tripping film.” and with that he continues talking of his greatest inspirations in one elaborate sweep “Fellini, Warhol, Bergman – and nudist camp movies! They’re all in here!” and thankfully for his loyal fans, a whole lot of Water’s himself!
BEVERLY HILLS JOHN
1 JULY – 15 AUGUST
Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday | 10 am – 6 pm
Words by Tracy Kawalik
Photos by Tracy Kawalik and Sprueth Magers