A model’s plangent eyes look out from layers of paint, applied in trowel thickness; another casts her eyes down, her face embellished in swirling patterns. Part of the portfolio of Alex Box, trained artist-turned-make-up star, the images deconstruct conventional notions of beauty in fashion. In a new exhibition at Rankin’s gallery space, Annroy, Box’s creations for designers such as Gareth Pugh and Karl Lagerfeld are exhibited alongside images photographed by Rankin for the accompanying book. The book also includes pictures of models without make-up, overlaid with drawings by Box. ‘It allows a difference in surface and perspective that alters the pace, lines and feelings you can achieve,’ she says. ‘These are just as important as the make-up images.’ All of the work reflects Box’s inspirations, which she describes as ‘anything intensely visual, such as graphic novels, scripture, old film posters, fine art, calligraphy, tribal masks and tattoos’. ‘The list is endless,’ she says, ‘But I’m drawn to intensively laboured, fine detail and extreme, instantaneously euphoric gestures.’ But first and foremost, her make-up is emotive, says Box, ‘An emotional response to the impetus, the model, the mood and melody.’ And even at their most extreme and unreal, they remain beautiful – ‘the spirit of the person is clearly visible, not obliterated’.
Alex Box/ The Make-Up Artist is on at the Annroy Gallery, 110-114 Grafton Road, London NW5, from 23 October to 22 November. The accompanying book by Rankin is published by Turnaround on 22 October, priced £50