Bepen Bhana’s artistic output reflects contemporary society’s ubiquitous relationship with celebrity culture. Using techniques grounded in design and print media Bhana’s work often draws upon humour and satire to engage with issues of ‘Celebrity’, mainstream media and Pop culture at large. In The Facial Suite, Bhana presents a series of new work that simultaneously embodies, parodies and critiques many of these relationships.
Here Bhana appropriates stock photographs, featuring 1980’s American soap actors that he then digitally manipulates to obscure any recognisable facial features. This digital manipulation transforms these minor celebrities into faceless mannequins resurrected from the vaults of eighties fashion crime. The garish pinks and yellows in the clothes and studio background are also deliberately chosen to sit uncomfortably against the trademark red of the neighbouring Warehouse department store. By doing so, Bhana purposefully disrupts not only the creation of celebrity but also the pictorial conventions of retail advertising and the brash lure of mass media. A public intervention that intends to complicate the role of such imagery in our daily lives and the commercial nature of the surrounding urban environment.
Bepen Bhana is an Auckland-based interdisciplinary artist, currently teaching at The Manukau School of Visual Arts. The Facial Suite was made in conjunction with support from The Manukau Institute of Technology’s Research, Development and Technology Transfer Fund.