Robert Mapplethorpe's photography walks the line between beautiful and obscene, and that's what makes him so famous. His images of seductive flowers are alarmingly erotic, and his nearly pornographic photos of nude men are compositionally perfect. A new show at OHWOW Gallery, "As Above, So Below," shows this seeming duality of beautiful/obscene as flowing from one method of aesthetic genius.
Pulled from a Hermetic principle and Greek theories of the Golden Ratio, "As Above, So Below" means that "whatever happens on one level of reality also occurs on a separate level," according to the exhibition's press release. While the title is a little overreaching, it applies to Mapplethorpe's varied subjects. From drooping flowers to erect penises, patterns of geometry and composition remain the same. No matter what he chooses to shoot, Mapplethorpe makes it distinctly, beautifully his.
"'As Above, So Below' does not attempt to mitigate images by contrasting themes; the exhibition aims to illustrate the artist’s mastery of a visual realm by narrating this theoretical focus," reads the press release.
This show is OHWHOW Gallery's first exhibition of Mapplethorpe's work and will display 40 images, including silver gelatin prints, Polaroids, and some pieces that have rarely been exhibited before.
"As Above, So Below" opens tonight at OHWOW Gallery in Los Angeles with a reception from 7-9 p.m. The show runs until March 29, 2014.