A Globe Gallery presentation hosted by Vane, ‘Thirteen’ is a photographic installation by London based artist George Chakravarthi. Commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, to mark the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, the works on show portray thirteen of Shakespeare’s tragic characters all of whom meet their ends through suicide. Created as a series of self-portraits embedded in light boxes, Chakravarthi assumes the roles of some of Shakespeare’s most celebrated yet doomed characters: Brutus, Cassius, Eros, Goneril, Mark Antony, Othello, Timon, Lady Macbeth, Portia, Ophelia, Cleopatra, Juliet and Romeo. Chakravarthi says of the project:
‘The portraits are multilayered and imbued with colour and texture, created to present my vision of each image and character, revealing the beauty, anguish and complexities found across Shakespeare’s tragedies.’
Chakravarthi worked with the RSC costume department to dramatically reconstruct his identity, assembling key pieces of costumes to take on the guise of each character. Having been photographed in character, Chakravarthi then layered each shot with textures and surfaces drawn from diverse sources including cobwebs, feathers, tree bark, mould and precious stones. The subtly veiled and brooding images aim to find as much drama in the final images as there is in Shakespeare’s texts as well as give a sense of distance between the figure and the viewer.
The resulting collection of jewel-like images embedded in light boxes are presented in a delicately lit space referencing ideas of tombs and monuments to the heroes and heroines of William Shakespeare.
George Chakravarthi was born in New Delhi, India and moved to the UK at the age of ten. Most of his work explores ideas of ‘selfhood’ and deconstructs socially accepted definitions of gender, sexual and racial identity within live, photographic and video performances. A multi-disciplinary artist he draws inspiration from cinema, art history, public and private spaces, and from collective social histories. He has performed and exhibited nationally in venues including The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust, Site Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts, Tate Modern, Victoria and Albert Museum, and internationally in Germany, The Netherlands and India. He trained at The University of Brighton, The Royal Academy of Arts and The Royal College of Art where he completed his MA in 2003. He lectures at The University of Brighton. Chakravarthi lives and works in London.