The artistic identity of tattoo art today

While tattoos today may be two-a-penny, it’s easy to forget the skill, craftsmanship and art behind the iconic designs that have made their way onto so many hip, badass bodies.

Alex Binnie

Source: c. Alex Binnie

Alex Binnie

A new show at London’s Somerset House will explore ‘the artistic identity of tattoo art today’, with a particular focus on themes of ‘time’ that underpin so many of the designs.

Somerset House says, ‘Time and all it infers (such as life and death) is a classic, common motif in tattoo art, expressed through a vast variety of iconographic combinations.

‘For example, the popular inkings of butterflies, blossoms and the handled cross signify life, while memento mori such as skulls or the goddess Kali denote death.’

Ed Hardy

Source: c. Ed Hardy

Ed Hardy

The exhibition has been curated by tattoo artist Claudia De Sabe and publisher Miki Vialetto, and will present original artwork from 70 contemporary tattoo artists, including Ed Hardy, Horiyoshi III, Paul Booth and Mister Cartoon.

Claudia de Sabe

Source: c. Claudia de Sabe

Claudia de Sabe

The artists’ new works include oil painting, watercolours, traditional Japanese silk painting, painted skulls and bronze sculpture.  All pieces were created in response  to a brief from the gallery to create a time-inspired work.

Filip Leu

Source: c. Filip Leu

Filip Leu

Vialetto says, ‘Over the past twenty years there have been many exhibitions which have considered tattooing from historical, sociological and anthropological standpoints. There have also been solo shows of tattoo artists…

‘But what is unprecedented about this exhibition is that it was organised to bring together 70 people who have created and represent the significant and momentous change in tattooing.’

Rose Hardy

Source: c. Rose Hardy

Rose Hardy

Time: Tattoo Art Today runs from 3 July – 5 October  at Embankment Galleries West, Somerset House, London WC2R 1LA

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