In our social age of profile pics and Gravatars, when ‘selfie’ turns up in the OED dictionary and over-sharing is caring, it can seem like there’s never a moment when we’re not putting ourselves on display. We all, said T. S. Eliot: “prepare a face to meet the faces that we meet”, and he didn’t even have Instagram.
With this in mind, Von’s collaboration with photographer Dan Sully couldn’t be more timely – it certainly raises a few questions about what privacy means to our Tweeting generation of duck-faced pout-pic posters. The exhibition Elsewhere (running at KK Outlet in Hoxton Square throughout May) showcases 22 of Von’s pencil portraits of those rare occasions that people fall away from their surroundings for a second, get lost in the moment, and are alone with their private thoughts – not squirting them all over the internet via their smartphones. There is, of course, a certain irony in the act of creating drawings about people wrapped up in a world of their own based on the results of a meticulously staged photoshoot, but Von – as an artist who uses a pencil to create astonishingly layered artworks – is an expert at exposing a vast spectrum of nuances with a single blunt instrument.
The resulting images are compelling studies of contemplation in shades of grey, and a gentle interrogation of the look-at-me ethos of the social web. They’re also a bloody impressive demonstration of what a talented man can do with a pencil. Four limited edition posters for the show come courtesy of Von pals Non-Format, Hort, Darren Firth and David Pearson.