L'Oeil De La Photographie David LaChapelle, Lost + Found

The New World series by David LaChapelle is a world premiere staged in Venice: eleven works that mark the artist’s return to the human figure, focused on ideas as paradise and representations of joy, nature and the soul. The Casa dei Tre Oci, is hosting them together with 100 more images from the surreal, baroque, and pop universe of David LaChapelle: Lost + Found is a solo show, following the career of one of the most irreverent contemporary photographers.

According to LaChapelle, the New World series – inspired by the symbolist painters Odilon Redon and William Blake, by Michelangelo and by Pharell Williams music – aims to meditate on metaphysical questions. It’s a colorful, cosmic fantasy, an exotic dream, a place of desire without any alienation, where an intimate connection with the spirit of nature and with other human beings is a real chance.

The beginning of his career in New York is represented by pictures from the period when Andy Warhol offered him his first professional photographic assignment for Interview Magazine. “Besides the b&w series exhibited in the 1984 Good News for Modern Man show, with his celebrities portraits, visitors can look at some of his most significant works commissioned by fashion magazines. In his eccentric and imaginary compositions, LaChapelle choreographs a colorful world made of beauty, creative madness and critical analysis”, curator Reiner Opoku says. “By delving into the deepest viscera of the complex communications system of advertising and the star system, David LaChapelle began to consider “icons” as the real seed for a style that is concerned with both research and content. In Pop Art he found inspiration for thinking about the infinite reproducibility of images; and in fashion and merchandising he found that excess of realism and commercialization that is, indeed, transformed into a dream.”, Denis Curti, curator of the show says.

Another theme in the photographer’s work is harking back to art history classic subjects, especially Renaissance painting ( Earth Laughs in Flowers, 2008-2011), reinterpreting its aesthetic features according to our present time. A turning point was his journey to Rome in 2006: he was transfixed by Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel and by the pomp of religious power. Michelangelo’s Deluge suggested to him the creation of his own Deluge , where the references to Michelangelo’s masterpiece are mixed with the logos of the consumer society.

The exhibit continues with After the Deluge and Awakened , where he portrayed people in an embryonic state immersed in water: a kind of resurrection after the deluge. His post-2006 series are linked together in a subtle balance between sacred and profane, alternating various subjects on the theme of Vanitas. His photos also denounce contemporary obsessions, the relationship to pleasure, affluence, the superfluous. He wraps everything in electric colors and lacquered surfaces, producing images which could be quoted in some of the essays of Gillo Dorfles, philosopher and art critic who theorized about kitsch and taste oscillations. As a matter of fact, David LaChapelle states: “I love to create through fantasy, transforming my dreams into images”.

Since 2013, landscape photography also became an area of particular interest: the exhibit includes some photos from the series Gas Station et LandScape , where he reconstructed scale models of gas stations and refineries, using recycled materials as egg cartons, hair curlers or drinking straws, summoning human beings to a responsible use of natural resources.

Paola Sammartano

Paola Sammartano is a journalist specialized in arts and photography based in Milan, Italy.

David LaChapelle, Lost + Found
April 12 to September 10, 2017
Casa dei Tre Oci
Fondamenta delle Zitelle 43
30133 Giudecca, Venezia

This exhibition is organized by Fondazione di Venezia and Civita Tre Venezie. Catalogue by Masilio editori.

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