Burlesque? Art may strip away your prejudices

IS THERE such a thing as burlesque art? You can find out in Shoreditch early next month when “A Brush with Burlesque” seeks to answer with a saucy Yes.

Mark Bell and his wife Sarah wanted to offer artists from around Britain a chance to show their work together in a London gallery.

Sarah Bell, who with Mark runs the burlesque show Kinky And Quirky and the studio/gallery A Kick Up The Art in Torquay, Devon, said: “We wanted to have a platform to reach both the burlesque-loving and established art-loving audiences.”

Above, a work by Charlotte Rhodes. Top, Feline (Laetitia Guilbaud)

The couple decided that East Gallery in Brick Lane was ideal to show burlesque art, ranging from what Bell termed “the classical styles of portrait artists Mark Bell and Fiona Wilson to the intricate illustrative works of Charlotte Thomson and then on to the graphic images of Kev Grey and Joe Armitage”.

She added: “With the featured artists each bringing their own interpretation, this collection reflects the diverse events in towns and cities across the UK. And the energy, the costumes and the nuances of individual performers are portrayed with a genuine love for the genre and a generous dollop of insider knowledge.”

When the show finishes, its website will remain as a directory of burlesque artists in the hope it will become an up-to-date resource. The exhibition ties in with London Burlesque Week.

Burlesque is a word in transition: to some people an attempt to make striptease more respectable; to its proponents, of course, that could in itself be deemed disrespectful.

In other words, the b-word is too complicated for Loving Dalston to define. Just congratulate him on having got through this piece without one childish word-play (“ties in” was a close, uhm shave).

“A Brush with Burlesque”, East Gallery, 214 Brick Lane, Lon E1 6SA, Thurs 3 May 2012-Sun 13 May 2012, 1pm-7pm

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