Last week got me thinking a great deal about art and rock and roll. It began with the influx of postings from MOMA of the Jay-Z and performance artist Marina Abramovic collaboration. This was followed by the announcement that Lady Gaga's next album, ARTPOP is nearing it's release. Artist are the new rock stars, and no one knows this better than our current pop-rock-hop stars. Challenging inquiries regarding musical, lyrical and performance choices are often thwarted by the response "Well, I consider myself more of an artist..." And rightly so as art and the artist are not defined by any specific medium. But, declaring oneself as an artist seems to be a get out of jail card - a license to do whatever one wants creatively without adhering to the constraints of what is expected or popular. One could argue that the very factor that makes one a pop-ular star: appealing to the masses, seems to be the antithesis of the artist whose non conformist ideals are generally what causes the term to be preceded by the struggling or the starving. Still, I say, does not the music genre already this archetype built within it's medium? Is this not the lure of the rock star? And if so, where did all the real rock stars go?
This debate I carried with me as I entered the Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin opening at the Gagosian in Beverly Hills. Upon entering the gallery, I was first captivated by the sight of Inez and Vinoodh - two lithe unassuming creatures graciously receiving the gallery attendees. It was a large turn out of admirers from fashion fans to art collectors. Inez and Vinoodh exchanged smiles and glances with all who gazed upon them occasionally reaching out to the other to grant the eager ones a photo before said person scurried off to post it on social media. And I thought to myself, "Well now, here they are...It's Yoko and John."
Not unlike the famous bed-in, the couple reigned humbly, flanked by white walls bearing signs (or rather photographs) indicating that a different type of revolution was afoot. Pretty Much Everything marks 25 years of evolving the way we look at portraiture, fashion and most notably fame. Whether it be the recognizable beauty of Julianne Moore or the blank canvas of a stunning model, each subject is transformed to an exaggerated personification of an iconic self. Envision appreciating a stunning image of a young woman being touched by what could be the hand of god and on the second or third round of viewing finally recognizing the woman as Natalie Portman. Their portraiture demands you embrace the story before you see the details. Conceptually this type of transformation is not new but to execute it classically, to lean heavy on the digital possibilities without undermining the intelligence and still maintain the integrity and beauty of the subject is what has made Inez and Vinoodh.
"Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin were among the first to harness the full potential of digital manipulation to the portrayal of the human condition. Corrupting photography's "decisive moment", they imposed their aesthetic intention upon reality, drawing upon various imaginaries from the Gothic to Pop art via Surrealism."
The first two rooms consist mainly of stunning black and white portraiture save one gentle portrait of a baby lamb and a mural tri-panel color images of the couple engaged in a kiss with their digital mastery. Yet it was in the third room, which housed a series of large color flower images, that proved to be an unexpected triumph. A refreshing reprieve from the more celebrated walls of faces, the floral images indicated the couples ability to practice restraint and capture beauty simplistically. It was in this room that music was finally heard. Yet long before reaching the DJ, the intoxicating rhythm of the duo's work had taken hold. Inez and Vinoodh had already moved the crowd and this was simply the encore.
Inez and Vinoodh
Pretty Much Everything
July 12th - August 23rd
456 North Camden Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210