Glass reviews The Suggestionists show by Jamie Hewlett

The graphic illustrator, Jamie Hewlett, who once heralded the dawn of post-Britpop in super group Gorillaz, returned in spectacular fashion with his first art exhibition at London’s Saatchi Gallery. Jamie Hewlett’s The Suggestionists marks his return in a three-part display – each relating to the themes of Tarot, Honey and Pine.

Having gained cult success from Tank Girl, Hewlett’s following output took diverse inspiration from stateside motion picture and comic books. The Suggestionists however, explores styles that may come as a shock to fans of Tank Girl.

Jamie Hewlett 08Image by Jamie Hewlett. Photograph: Saloi Jeddi

The first room features 22 large-scale illustrated tarot cards. Inspired by the Chilean artist and film-maker Alejandro Jodorowsky’s reconstruction of the Tarot de Marseille deck, Hewlett has added his personal touch, boasting modernism, humour and vibrancy. The tarot art surrounds visitors and invites them to find a print that fits their personality. The cards brag powerful characters such as The Emperor and The Hanged Man, which stand among other colourful characters – each supported with charming descriptions, some of which being in poetic form.

Jamie Hewlett 02Image by Jamie Hewlett. Photograph: Saloi Jeddi

Erotica runs rampant through the pieces on display in the second room themed Honey, which takes its inspiration from mid-century adult film. The viewer encounters a series of light boxes that evoke the seedier kind of adult cinema lobby, complete with scarlet-hued boudoir lighting.

Jamie Hewlett 03 (Embedded Image)Image by Jamie Hewlett. Photograph: Saloi Jeddi

Hewlett produces a series of vintage movie posters displayed in a box that are soaked in B-movie fashion. The room acts as a dark interval to the exhibition as we are plummeted into darkness and told to “watch our step” before having the light from the artworks act as the only source as light.

Jamie Hewlett 06Image by Jamie Hewlett. Photograph: Saloi Jeddi

In the final throes, Hewlett transports the audience to Southern France for Pine. Here we see the illustrative side of Hewlett’s artistic spectrum, presented in the form of intricate drawings of trees. Jamie Hewlett, who lives and works in Paris, shows near to no evidence of having urban ties as we see the humbleness of his work in the tree branches drawn in black on a white backdrop. Pine expresses the depth of Hewlett’s work and works well as a finale.

Jamie Hewlett 07Image by Jamie Hewlett. Photograph: Saloi Jeddi

This exhibition sits in its entirety as a fitting tribute to the creative impulse behind one of the most popular musical acts of the decade. As an artist, Hewlett suffers no weakness from his moving into the limelight. In this exhibition he has demonstrated a great capacity for irony, negation and singularity of vision.

by Katrina Mirpuri

Photographs: Saloi Jeddi