By Joe Mellor, Deputy Editor
“Everything you can imagine is real” said Pablo Picasso, a concept which contemporary auteur Danny Passarella has embraced.
He has just unveiled his first ever art exhibition, Fantasy Scenes, in The Gallery at Forge & Co this summer.
While Danny is noted for his Passarella Death Squad project spanning fashion and music, his Fantasy Scenes show consists of science fiction-esque images that evoke the wonder of adolescence.
These ‘Fantasy Scenes’ themselves are ten hyper-real coastal vistas, featuring vintage arcade machines as their central subjects.
Each work consists fully of original photography. While the backgrounds are augmented images of Danny’s native Whitley Bay, a dilapidated seaside resort in north-east England. The video games central to each image come from the industry’s salad days: titles such as Out Run, Gauntlet and Afterburner.
Danny says, “I wanted the machines to have a monolithic presence in each of the artworks, their arrival spreads colour through the landscapes and sky – a Utopian vision in sharp contrast to the collapsing Victorian seaside town that is Whitley Bay now.”
Danny’s personal vision of his home town is reminiscent of fellow north easterner Ridley Scott, who famously used the skyline of Middlesboro (just down the road) to frame his iconic film Blade Runner.
Danny is keen to point out that while he’s used his childhood home of Whitley Bay to compose the images, its experience is hardly unique. He says, “Now, instead of a fire station, there’s a Wetherspoons that’s open from eight in the morning. The huge hotels are now old people’s homes. The Victorian features have crumbled and the arcades are simply gone.”
The machines themselves were sourced through aficionados in Europe and America.
He says, “In a digital age, such devoted eccentrics are few and far between, equally, back when these machines – which are now found on your phone – were around, you had to get off your arse to be entertained.”
A keen affinity with retro arcade machines isn’t necessary to enjoy the pieces though, hopes Danny, “I don’t own a console or play games now. The people I’m aiming at don’t really either, but they remember these machines.”
It is the thrill of discovery and sense of ambition that will unify the viewers of Fantasy Scenes, rather than their teenage, or rather ‘eternal teenage’, pastimes.
As novelist J G Ballard once said, “I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world, to release the truth within us, to hold back the night, to transcend death, to charm motorways, to ingratiate ourselves with birds, to enlist the confidences of madmen.”
Head to Fantasy Scenes and get a boot camp for your perception.
Art show date
The Gallery at Forge & Co, Friday 25th July – Sunday 3rd August Open daily 11am – 7pm admission free ~ Private view : Thursday 24th July 6.30pm – 9.30pm.
The exhibition itself consists of the ten Fantasy Scenes, a selection of which will be available as digital pigment prints in limited editions. A soundtrack especially composed for the exhibition plays throughout.
About the Artist
Danny Passarella left the north-east of England for London in the year 2000. He begun cult clothing label Passarella Death Squad in 2004; it has since been stocked in many of the world’s top fashion stores including Paris’ Colette, London’s Liberty, New York’s Bloomingdales and Moscow’s Podium.
In 2007 Danny started making music under the same name. His eponymous debut LP received a 9/10 review in Vice magazine.