In a rarefied corner of Chelsea, amid immaculate mews houses, purring sports cars and ladies who lunch, stands The Little Black Gallery. It may be small, but it is increasingly packing a punch on the London art scene. Alternating between shows by up-and-coming photographers and big names like Terry O’Neill and Bob Carlos Clarke, LBG champions young trailblazers and pays tribute to legends.
The gallery’s new exhibition sees film director Mike Figgis show off his talent for photography. Best known for the movie Leaving Las Vegas, he is also an accomplished lensman, his pictures reflecting the dreamy/gritty style which is his directorial trademark. Figgis’s Hollywood credentials, plus the identity of his main subject – the one and only Kate Moss – make this London’s most glamorous show of the moment.
Kate & Other Women is exhibited over the gallery’s two floors, with street level devoted to never-seen-before images of the supermodel.
The opening night saw a gregarious, well-heeled crowd flit around the provocative collection, which sees Kate smouldering in to-die-for lingerie (the photos were shot as part of an Agent Provocateur campaign). Downstairs the homage to Kate continues, combined with other celebrations of the female form, from theatrical nudes to pop culture babes.
Orange stickers showed the prints were selling too – a visit to LBG can create a hole in your wallet, as the exhibits are available to buy. If you can’t afford to splash out, there is a good range of photography books and postcards to go home with.
Never afraid to shy away from controversy, the gallery has forged a reputation for pushing boundaries. What really puts it on the map though is its archive of work by Bob Carlos Clarke – one of Britain’s most highly-regarded fashion photographers, who died in 2006.
Clarke was famous for creating erotically-charged images of famous names. A previous retrospective of his work sparked complaints that the content was not suitable to be seen by schoolchildren who were innocently passing the gallery’s plate-glass windows. In a tongue-in-cheek bid to appease any disgruntled locals, this year’s Carlos Clarke exhibition was dubbed “Peep Show” and saw the gallery’s windows blacked out, save for a small hole at grown-up eye level.
Style, originality, wit and sex appeal make up the Little Black Gallery’s modus operandi – and the current combination of Figgis and Moss fits right in. Step inside for a taste of stardom.
Mike Figgis – Kate & Other Women: The Little Black Gallery, 13A Park Walk, London SW10 0AJ, until 30 July 2011. Visit www.thelittleblackgallery.com for more information