Russell Young: From the Archives at ZK Gallery, San Francisco

            Drawing from his archive of personal favorites, British-American artist Russell Young has selected some twenty-five works for a survey spanning the last ten years of his career. Following on the heels of Forever Young: A Retrospective Essay at the Polk Museum of Art in 2015-2016, this best-of “play list” includes notable pieces from nearly a dozen series—pitting the grittiness of his early “Pig Portraits,” here represented by a mug shot of Elvis blown up to monumental proportions, against the tragic glamour of “Femme Fatale,” featuring a close-up of Marilyn in tears, or the explosive beauty of his recent “New York Grenades,” human-scale “portraits” of a deadly WWII weapon.

Young, who riffs on a Warholian Pop art vernacular, often keeps one of his limited-edition or one-off screen prints on fabric. Inspired by the celebrity culture and atmospheric luminosity of Southern California, the artist mixes the pigments to handcraft a custom palette he uses in the hand-pulled silkscreening process to create unique prints, often layered with diamond dust on fine linen, or unusual supports such as the industrial grade felt for the eight-panel large format film still Magnificent Seven, 2015. The impulse to amass an ensemble of his own work also resonates with the artist’s initial research of sifting through archival sources—press photographs, police records, or auction house catalogs—to find the right image.

The collection of work on view bears witness to the coherence, breadth and depth of Young’s longstanding exploration of materials and themes, plumbing the past—whether his own beginnings as a fashion and music industry photographer or the American collective unconscious lurking behind the “fame and shame” of iconic figures—to shed light on our current moment.