Xerjoff Magazine

Martin Parr: Human nature


Great Britain at the time of Brexit alongside with numerous portraits of ordinary people portrayed in their everyday life: this is the focus of the work of Martin Parr - British photographer - to whom the National Portrait Gallery in London dedicates a large retrospective

Martin Parr has always been interested in portraying people in their daily lives, emphasizing their habits and behaviours. An homage to him with a large retrospective on show until May 27th at the National Portrait Gallery in London (St. Martin’s Place). After studying photography at Manchester Metropolitan University in the early 1970’s, Parr made his debut with a black and white series dedicated to life in northern England and western Ireland. However, he soon moved on to colour photography, partly inspired by the seaside postcards of John Hinde, for which he is mainly famous for.

The exhibition, entitled “Only Human: Martin Parr” includes portraits of people of all ages, races and social classes, coming from every corner of the planet, with particular attention to the concept of “Britishness”; concept on which the photographer concentrates his ironic and irreverent look. This is a work by Parr, who certainly has the merit, especially in his most recent shots, of witnessing the social climate in Britain after the results of the Brexit referendum. The exhibition does not focus only on ordinary people, it is also a selection of portraits of famous people (Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith, Tracey Emin, Grayson Perry, Pelé, etc.) a series dedicated to self-portraits (“Autoportaits”) and another one entitled Photo Escultura, which includes small holy pictures depicting Martin Parr hand-carved by the last craftsman left in Mexico City. “I photograph life as it is,” the photographer said, “if the photos look grotesque to you, it’s because you think life is so.” Is that really so? You may decide”. The answer, of course, only after visiting the exhibition.

Above: The Queen visiting the Livery Hall of the Drapers’ Livery Company for their 650th Anniversary, the City of London, London, England, 2014. – Picture credits © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos / Rocket Gallery