Terry O’Neill Reworked at Rook & Raven

The name Terry O’ Neill might ring a bell with you all. The legendary celebrity photographer has had everyone who was anyone in the 60’s and 70’s in front of his camera. Brigitte Bardot, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Audrey Hepburne, Frank Sinatra, Clint Eastwood and many more iconic names have been immortalized by Terry, resulting in picturs that are at least as iconic and familair as the models. The Rook & Raven Gallery in London organized an amazing show based on Terry’s work. Their impressive range of contemporary artists had a go at re-working Terry’s iconic photographs. We had the chance to ask Terry and a few of the artists some questions via mail, and the amazing Sanna Solkinen had a look at the opening and wrote some great words on the pieces.

Terry O’Neill: “I was intrigued to see how the agile minds of up and coming young artists would interpret my work”

Terry O’Neill

What was your personal motivation to let these artists rework your photography?

I have been looking at my photographs for decades and they’ve become very familiar to me. I was intrigued to see how the agile minds of up and coming young artists would interpret my work. The artistic flair of Rook & Raven Gallery’s roster of contemporary urban artists really excites me and I couldn’t wait to see what art they might create using my images as their inspiration.

How do you like the results?
As many of the artists are still working on their pieces I have not yet had a chance to see all of the works. But what I have seen I absolutely love, they’re brimming with energy and colour and, of course , this is a new generation looking through its own prism so I’m expecting to be surprised or shocked or challenged by their ieas – thats how it should be.

Do you have a favourite amongst these works? one you’d like to hang on the walls of your own house perhaps?

It’s hard to pick a favourite as each work is totally unique and very different to each other, I love them all! I find Pam Glew’s flags very interesting, she’s right up my street art wise, and I’d love to be able to hang her interpretation of Jean Shrimpton and Terence Stamp up in my home.  But the truth is art is something that doesnt have to blow you away immediately – it can grow on you, it can seduce you so I’d rather reserve judgement until I’ve had time to digest them. Many of my most iconic photographs lay undeveloped for years – they just didnt seem to fit the bill at the time, but their stature and appeal became emblematic of their age.

Are you open for doing more collaborations like this?
Yes definitely, I love the way that they refresh my archive and make my images relevant to young people today.

The Private view (by Sanna Solkinen)

Last Thursday I had been given a great honour to represent CFYE at the Rook & Raven Gallery’s private viewing of the legendary Terry O’Neill’s most iconic images reworked by an eclectic mix of contemporary artists.

As it is known Terry O’Neill is an iconic photographer known for his intimate images of the rich, famous and powerful. He is solely responsible for some of the most recognizable photographs from the last half a century. So this event was a must see, which I was privilege enough to attend on behalf of the the guys at CFYE.

The Rook and Raven gallery in London was the perfect place to host such an event, especially with so many brilliant young artists exhibiting their work through their own eyes but based on something already of a masterpiece. Not an easy task!. However, the pieces shown were nothing short of masterpieces in their own right varying from very modern to the very classic styles.

Pam Glew

One of the artists that definitely had a very strong piece was Pam Glew and her work combining bleaching technique and dye on a vintage Union Jack flag. This piece was definitely the one that represented the true essence of the concepts behind these works, by combining Terry O’Neill’s already famous photograph with an even more iconic image of the Union Jack flag. Pam managed to balance the two beautifully resulting in an iconic of an iconic piece. Truly British!

How was it to rework these iconic photographs from such an important photographer?

It felt like a privilege to work with Terry’s imagery, the series I especially love is his 60-70s black and whites, it so sums up a period of classic minimal and very cool photography. Terry’s image of Shrimpy and Stamp was so strong and very much my kind of extreme close-up wide-eyed portrait.

Are you satisfied with the result?

Yes totally, I think its fairly true to the original, but has my sweeping bleach brush strokes, so its obviously me, whilst still retaining the drama of the original photograph. I haven’t done many collaborations, so this one is a bit special.

by Pam Glew

by Pam Glew

James ‘Dalek’ Marshall

On a comparison the works of James ‘Delak’ Marshall were an interesting combination of classic and modern with the use of digital manipulation. This piece really stood out form the rest with its electric colours, symmetric lines and depth. Also interestingly the most expensive pieces at the gallery.

How was it to rework these iconic photographs from such an important photographer?

It was an amazing opportunity . In looking at the prints yesterday I couldn’t believe I was actually looking at them. This is a defining moment for sure . I appreciate being a part of it.

Are you satisfied with the result?

I am happy with the result for sure. I focused on trying to amplify the power and intensity that was already there and to illuminate those figures without taking away from anything that was embodied in the original work. So, In that sense I feel like I got the result I was hoping for. I hope it translates well and pays proper respect to Terry and the figures within the photos.

by James 'Dalek' Marshall

by James ‘Dalek’ Marshall

Curtis Kulig

Belonging to one of my favourites of the exhibition were the works of Curtis Kulig with his subtle yet precise works with the word Love. His ability to have a concise and coherent technique to blend the word into the image so that it blends in as if it was originally part of the photograph.

James Myline

Also another artist that clearly showed attention to the finer details were the works of James Myline, where he interestingly combined the use of a ballpoint pen and paint. He delicately added fine highlights and details into the image to enhance the features of the original photograph by using a ballpoint pen, which you really had to inspect close up in order to see the little details. Definitely the beauty lies in the finer details with his pieces.

Daniel Lumbini

In the more traditional sense of collage is an artist that knows how to accentuate different elements of a piece. Daniel Lubimi with his work with Terry O’Neill’s original Mick Jagger image, where he accentuates the proportion of Mick Jagger’s giant hand.

Interestingly Daniel’s other work at the exhibition was very different to the Mick Jagger collage. A painting/collage of Audrey Hepburn.   This definitely was also one of my show favourites purely because I love the original image taken by Terry. An interesting fact is that the dove on  Audrey’s shoulder accidentally landed there when the image was taken, to truly make it once in a life time shot! Also Daniels eye for detail and combination of colours and femininity is truly amazing, which is why the painting truly represents the era of Audrey Hepburn perfectly.

Terry O' Neil

By Daniel Lumbini

How was it to rework these iconic photographs from such an important photographer?

Yes, was an amazing opportunity that I couldn’t turn down. As someone who works primarily from photographs and media images, whether that be through painting or collage, to be given free reign to rework such iconic images by one of Britain’s most successful photographers was an honour (and something I’d usually dread being sued over). The only difficult thing was picking just two images to work from.

Has Terry expressed his opinion on your re-work?

I think he may have seen one of the works (a college I did of Mick Jagger), but haven’t heard any reaction to it yet – am still working on the other piece… I hope he likes it; I tried not to take anything away from the image but to accentuate the swagger Mick carries off in the photograph.

Are you satisfied with the result?

Yes, very. As I said previously, it’s golden being given permission to take this on, though, I guess it would be much easier to mess the image up as it’s pretty hard to make it any better; the originals are classic portrait photography, so I tried to give the reworks my stamp and kept it simple and opted for a collage and a painting, instead of mixing it up like I sometimes do. I didn’t want to overcomplicate things.

James Dawe

Last but definitely not least is the works of James Dawe and his use of collages to really rework and re-twist perceptions on these classic images. The way he has been able to capture the flow of an image and add colours is truly inspirational and modern on such classic pieces.

by James Dawe

by James Dawe

Inspirational evening

What an inspirational evening filled with such inspirational people that no wonder it was  a full house as soon as the doors opened until the very end. Even though that could have been the free drinks too but most definitive it was the works that got everyone talking. Therefore all I can say is look out for these young becoming artists because this surely isn’t the last we shall see from them!

Thanks again to the guys at CFYE for letting me represent proudly!

About Arden de Raaij

Front-end developer, Photographer and co-founder of cfye.com, originally from Amsterdam the Netherlands but currently located in Lisbon, Portugal.