At first glance, the work of James Paterson appears to pay vibrant homage to the vintage ‘pin-up’ familiar to us from the first half of the 20th century, when style, pleasure and consumption came together in popular culture through the medium of posters and illustrative photography. The cultural significance of these images is far reaching and they have become a visual code for sophisticated and liberated lifestyle choices, making them some of the most iconic and representative styles of the modern era. But a closer look reveals that Paterson has brought together some unexpected elements to subvert the message and shift the narrative into a contemporary cultural era.
By placing each woman against a target and using bright colours, glamorous costumes and lights, Paterson has created the atmosphere of a circus ring to send a simple but effective message about the value of the individual in society. He has taken a traditional art form and applied a contemporary aesthetic, juxtaposing kitsch with irony to change the story and create a conversation piece with every image. The use of real arrows, working lights, and his technique of scoring, sanding and chipping the surface to give a worn and distressed finish all combine to give a 3D feel to each piece: another subtle but deliberate way to highlight the real-world qualities of the central figures.