The Olga Korper Gallery is pleased to present Physical, our 10th solo exhibition by internationally renowned photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Physical will feature more than 30 black-and-white photographs selected for the beauty, elegance, raw emotion, and luscious tones that make a Mapplethorpe instantly recognizable.
This exhibition offers an investigation and celebration of the body – from graceful movements and bulging muscles to classical forms and superhero power stances – Mapplethorpe was a visionary with the figure the way Caravaggio and da Vinci were before him. Mapplethorpe’s images of strong women and delicate men helped pave the way for queer expression, breaking away from the traditional depiction of the alpha masculine or the submissive feminine in exchange for the gorgeous androgynous. By blurring the line between genders to honour the body itself, Mapplethorpe highlights the physical expression of the spirit.
While it would be ideal to speak of a changed world since the cultural challenges Mapplethorpe faced during the 1980s, 30 years later the provocative power of Mapplethorpe’s photography is just as relevant. Queer and trans communities continue to face gender debates, tightening trans laws, drag laws, and reproduction laws that impose brutal restrictions on body autonomy. Body talk in politics is just as prolific across North America as ever before. The prominence of Mapplethorpe’s extraordinary legacy offers poignant beauty and hope for many in the face of gender debates long past their expiration date. Through his eyes, we can observe all the magic and mystery of the human body, not as ‘mine’ or ‘theirs’ but simply as ‘ours.’