DeLuxe is a portfolio of sixty individually-framed prints hung in a rectangular grid formation comprising five rows of twelve, arranged in a sequence fixed by the artist. The work's raw materials are advertisements drawn from magazines dating from the 1930s to the 1970s aimed at African American consumers, such as Ebony, Our World and Sepia. Extracts of textual advertisements and images of mainly female models have been cut and layered to create the effect of a collage. These advertisements promote a range of beauty products for women and men, especially goods relating to hair including wigs and pomades. Other publicity materials advertise items including slimming aids, underwear, feminine hygiene items and skin treatments, such as bleaching creams. Gallagher employed a variety of techniques to transform the advertisements, combining traditional printing processes of etching and lithography with recent developments in digital technology. The printed pages are principally black and white, but are punctuated by areas colored grey, pink and red. With the title DeLuxe Gallagher draws ironically on the language of the advertisements as part of her project of subverting their original intentions; the word 'deluxe' appears in various spellings and fonts in different places in the prints. Following the printmaking process, Gallagher added a range of decorative elements onto the surfaces of many of the images including glitter, gold leaf and coconut oil - which has associations with Afro hair - as well as three-dimensional elements, that transform the prints into reliefs. These additions include toy eyeballs and pieces of intricately moulded colored plasticine resembling masks and hairpieces, which are placed over models' faces and heads. Her delicate moulding and sculpting of the plasticine produces forms that contrast with the geometry and order of the grid-like structure of the various wig advertisements (which show rows of heads wearing wigs) as well as the grid that the work as a whole forms. With interventions such as covering up models' faces and whiting out or cutting out eyes, Gallagher emphasizes the complexities surrounding the construction of identity, specifically in relation to race and gender. The artist's use of collage to unite different parts of a range of models' pictures and the addition of extravagant new hairstyles onto female heads advertising wigs produces unsettling juxtapositions. These transformations parody the 'improvements' offered by the advertisements and underscore in particular the role of hair as a signifier of difference. In one print derived from an advertisement for 'Duke' hair pomade, the artist covered the face of a black male model with yellow plasticine fashioned in a stylized shape suggesting an African mask. The mask that obliterates the face contrasts sharply with the model's elegant suit and cigarette-holding hand.
About The Gallery
Founded by David Lasry in New York City in 1994, Two Palms works with some of the world’s most celebrated