Leave or remain: Martin Parr pictures Britain in the wake of Brexit

“Only Human: Martin Parr” – between civic committment and unforgiving irony, a new solo show by Martin Parr opens at National Portrait Gallery in London.

No one could describe the social climate of UK in the time of Brexit better than Martin Parr

The celebrated British photographer is well known for his 40-year portait of a country that, judging by the images that has been cemented his international fame since “Common Sense” (1999), is kindly open to irony if not to humor, and that through his pictures is able to reflect on and laugh at itself.

In this domestic political deadlock slash high tension with EU, the anthological exhibition “Only Human: Martin Parr” on show at the London National Portrait Gallery until 27 May, therefore assumes many and unpredictable meanings: the lightness, on the one hand, and the malice, on the other, with which the Magnum agency member targets his fellow countrymen home and abroad, is actually a chance to scratch the surface and investigate, with the tools of visual satire, a society that is likely to answer incorrectly even to the wrong questions.

Besides focusing on a series of previously unseen photographs that convey the fun but complex image of a nation at a crossroads, the exhibition is also a glance on the overall work of Parr, a tireless traveller who has significantly witnessed better than others the enlargement of the Global Village’s borders and the shrinking of the world to a common place. 

West Bromwich. The Black Country. St George's Day. Stone Cross Parade. England, GB, 2017 Courtesy Martin Parr/Magnum Photos

Portraits of celebrities like Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith or Tracey Emin, as well as the series about leisure time, sports and dance will also be on display.

But this one–man show wouldn’t be complete without Parr’s unfailing self–portraits, whose super disciplined irreverence will culminate in the Phorto Escultura, a halfway between idolatry and self–irony piece of art commissioned from the last remaining traditional maker in Mexico City.

And when the show is over, don’t forget to pass by the pop–up Parr–themed cafe and get ‘a nice cup of tea’ or an ‘Only Human’ expressly crafted beer: after all, these ultimate British treats are one sure way to feel the Britishness that some of us are already starting to miss.

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