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Jonathan Yeo: You're only Young Twice

9th December 2011 - 21st January 2012

For his first UK show since 2008, Yeo makes a departure from his renowned portraits and collages to explore the fast-growing phenomenon of cosmetic surgery. Over the last 18 months, Yeo has been observing the work of leading cosmetic surgeons in the UK and US to produce a collection of work that uncovers the processes and results of pre and post-operative procedures on women.


Surprisingly gentle in his depiction, the artist shuns controversy in favour of the physical transformations and the black ink lines the surgeons draw directly onto the body prior to such operations. The result is a series of scientific images seen through a painter's eye which pose questions about our aspirations, vanities, the lengths we will go to in the pursuit of perfection, and the role of surgeons as 21st century sculptors of the physical form.

Yeo invites the viewer to re-imagine the traditional nude while exploring the stark realities of our contemporary obsession with cosmetic surgery. The result is a series of scientific images seen through a painter's eye which pose questions about our aspirations, vanities, the lengths we will go to in the pursuit of perfection, and the role of surgeons as 21st century sculptors of the physical form. Certainly the works recall clear art historical influences, in both subject and style. The headless, anonymous torsos of the ‘before and after’ diptychs suggest classical sculpture such as the Venus de Milo. Yet these are traditional subjects with utterly contemporary conceptual narratives.

A consistently contentious topic, cosmetic surgery is one of the main medical growth areas, highlighting the value in physical perfection. For You’re Only Young Twice, Jonathan Yeo continues to push the boundaries of portraiture exploring how art meets science meets vanity.

11 Rathbone Place, 
London W1T 1HR