Selected Works

Russell Young was born in 1959 in Yorkshire, UK.

He was immediately put into a foster home, then a nunnery, and was adopted before reaching the age of one. No one knew who exactly his birth parents were, though there were rumors his mother was fourteen, and his father was from Italy. In Northern England, he spent much of his time moving from town to town and living an isolating existence. Here he would take his first photographs of birds on the lawn only for the film to come back developed so dark he could hardly make out the birds. Like these first photographs, Young’s life developed with areas blotted by abandonment. The lack of a personal or even a shared history has left him free to explore dreams and fantasies of sometimes better, sometimes harsher worlds. That yearning has resulted in a body of work that is an uncompromising, intimate love letter addressed to these vast reaches, which, with every passing inscription, are revealed to be rich, wild frontiers.

Young continued to photograph celebrities and direct music videos, eventually leading him to the United States. The rock star aesthetic he had brandished in his photography lent itself to his earliest screen prints that followed in the 2000s. His first series, Pig Portraits, shown in Los Angeles in 2003, collected the infamous mugshots (real and staged) of celebrities awash in fame and monochrome but also restrained as a result of their actions. In his following series, Dirty Pretty Things, he began to incorporate his popular use of diamond dust. The glam shots of cultural icons, glittering in pulverized diamonds, embodied the lusts and aspirations of their eras.

It is these holes Young’s work illuminates. The holes of trauma, of carnal desire, of memory and history. Through them, he allows us to see vistas. In these vistas there are no expectations, no rules. He roams wherever he wishes, always looking for a space in which to be free, to experiment, to examine life and death. They are lands from which he resurrects dead dreams and crafts alternative ones. They are lands where invented realities are spun out of an earnest hope to reimagine both himself and ourselves.