What we see on the walls is a kaleidoscope of artistic photographic motifs created with an unusual aesthetic. By probing new techniques, Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin move unexpectedly between beauty and absurdity with a surprisingly elegant result. They have developed a an unusual and precise vocabulary of poses and the totality has, over the last twenty years, turned Inez and Vinoodh into a global name.
Like so many others, I discovered them in the 1990s through the magazine The Face, which was one of the few magazines that dared express itself experimentally and artistically. Since then, Inez and Vinoodh have been entrusted with numerous commissions, by major international fashion magazines, by the most artistic of fashion designers, by actors and entertainers of distinctive styles. The images and films in this exhibition are a selection collected from various contexts – the media, advertising and exhibitions.
Ever since they met in Amsterdam at the Vogue Institute of Fashion Technology and decided to develop their own singular and very beautiful contemporary fashion expression, their work has garnered much praise and attention. Vinoodh began his career as a fashion designer and knew that he needed a clear visual image for his brand. And for this he wanted to employ photography. He remembered Inez from school and her impressive, alluring and strange imagery. They began collaborating and soon Vinoodh abandoned his design label in order to fully concentrate on working with Inez to create the photographic art which we are in the midst of.
Their portraits gain extra value from a seemingly artistic encroachment. A sense of calm can be broken suddenly by an added – sometimes scary, sometimes beautifying – detail, which reveals a state of mind. Inez and Vinoodh allow themselves these devices by using colour, form and technology, which make their images as timeless as they are conditioned by the time. They create a context involving the model and his or her work, which gives the viewer a hint as to the content. It would be too easy to call it styling. Staging is a better word. The photograph becomes a document that remains in time and becomes lodged in one’s memory, and every human being that comes in front of their lens becomes an instant hero.
The introduction in 2010 to the RED camera has had a huge impact on the duo’s decision to make films on almost every photoshoot they do. This lightweight 4K video camera has enabled them to switch fluently from photo to video while maintaining the quality and artistic flexibility that are key to their photographic process. One hour worth of music video’s for artists such as lady gaga , Rihanna and Bjork as well as their groundbreaking fashion films for Vogue Paris, Nina Ricci and Dior and others are on view in the video gallery. Their unique sense of bodylanguage and subversive beauty opens up a whole new universe of possibilities for film and fashion.
An especially exciting aspect of this exhibition is the positioning of the pictures and the combinations of the various motifs. They appear as picture puzzles, a series of images and symbols. However, it is not certain that one will find a solution. Our imagination will want to play tricks on us. Depending on our references, which depend on the world in which we live, we experience things differently. Thus, we do not have to look for a solution or an answer; it is enough to let ourselves be immersed in these worlds of inspiration and fantasy. And this is what makes Inez and Vinoodh’s images so exhilarating. The symbolism, all the choices of components in their variously bizarre and beautiful art of colours, the drawings and flowering applications take us on imaginary journeys and accentuate the expressions and artistry of the people they portray. These are portraits built on an extraordinary understanding between the portrayer and the portrayed.