London Underground’s Platform for Art programme is delighted to present an exhibition of new works made especially for Piccadilly Circus Station by artist Shezad Dawood.
The exhibition is a selection of works from a series of 52 drawings made over 52 weeks. With one drawing produced each week for an entire year, the series became an alternative diary. The ritualistic manner of their production echoes their subject matter, the currency of popular spiritual symbolism.
Overflowing with symbols, signs and images of faith from secular and religious contexts, the images are obscure and familiar, mysterious and recognisable. Their meanings are transformed as they draw on a wide range of references to different cultures, styles and periods, reflecting the current fascination with the search for spiritual value and fulfilment in an increasingly impersonal society.
The works have a charmingly utopian appeal reminiscent of psychedelic posters produced during the heyday of peace and love in the 1960s. They resemble design classics of spirituality, nostalgically revived as an alternative set of brands for today’s consumer lifestyles. The presentation of the works in a busy, West End underground station places them in the world of high-impact advertising. Dawood’s proposition could be that it is the quest for meaning and a connection with a higher power that underlies the desire behind the quick fix of the city centre shopping extravaganza.
The notion of authenticity is an undercurrent running through all of Dawood’s work as he explores and examines how identity, and by extension culture, become fluid commodities. His work investigates and employs media such as advertising, film posters and fashion photography to subvert traditional cultural boundaries and to propose a new social geography. He is therefore particularly apt for showing in such a bustling travel interchange.
Shezad Dawood was born in London in 1974 and still lives and works in the city. He graduated with an MA from the Royal College of Art in 2000 and has exhibited in many solo and group shows in the UK and internationally. His work reflects a keen cultural awareness, appropriating various forms of popular image-making and exploring the artist’s own sense of cultural hybridity.
With over three million passengers using the network per day, this project will be exposed to the biggest contemporary art audience in the country.