British silkscreen and collage star Joe Webb stages his first ever retrospective at For Arts Sake gallery in London this spring, in a large-scale exhibition displaying some of his most famous pieces alongside never-before-seen works.
From the collage that catapulted him into the public eye – ‘Antares & Love II’, which won him a solo show at the Saatchi Gallery – through to his most recent print, ‘Stirring Up a Storm’, Lost & Found will span Joe’s silkscreens and paintings alongside his smaller-scale, intricately hand-cut collages.
The London-born artist, named one of the Evening Standard’s ‘Exciting Young British Artists to Look Out For’ in 2017, has won an army of high profile fans including Coldplay, whose members cited his work as inspiration for their Grammy Award-nominated ‘Up and Up’ video. His work has also graced album covers by Janelle Monáe and Tears for Fears.
The title for the exhibition, Lost & Found, refers to Joe’s creative process – finding long-lost images and reinventing them as often politically charged artworks – and his reinvention from the commercial world of work to finding his way as an artist. An art college graduate working in graphic design, he turned to handmade collage as an “analogue escape” from computers.
Posting his works online, the powerful images quickly went viral – many being shared more than 200,000 times. The decision to enter a collage competition at Saatchi Gallery in 2014 was the tipping point: he won and was asked to stage a solo show, ‘Paper Cuts’, at the Chelsea gallery the following year.
Citing Pop Art pioneers Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg and Belgian surrealist René Magritte as inspirations, Webb juxtaposes two or three simple images to create a fresh contemporary narrative. He says: “I’m always looking for that magic moment of serendipity where images just work, and an idea is expressed through placing two or three pictures together. I try to address social, environmental, political issues that are on my mind or on the news - I’m trying to address things rather than shy away from things.
“I’m looking at how humans have impacted the earth and how we’re damaging and destroying it. For instance my newest piece ‘Stirring Up a Storm’ (below) has a giant whisk whisking up the earth, causing a storm, and that’s just the beauty of putting two pictures together from completely different sources. [They] work when they’re put together and convey the message of how mankind’s hand is affecting earth on a giant scale.”