Monday, 23 April 2012

The Earth Laughs in Flowers

The Lovers David Lachapelle

If I say the name David Lachapelle, those of you in the know will recall his over blown images of pop culture, saturated with colour and positively bursting at the seams with iconic references and sexual meanings. Even those who don't recognise the name will probably have seen his work; From ad campaigns to music videos, Lachapelle has produced work used across the world for some of the biggest names in celebrity and fashion. 

I was somewhat surprised therefore to see his new work, The Earth Laughs in Flowers. It wasn't like anything I'd seen him do before. The colours and narrative are still there but replacing the bright lights of Vegas and the showgirls are still life tableau recalling works of Dutch vanitas and memento mori paintings. 

Concerning the soul Davind Lachapelle

Flowers are the main theme here and they take centre stage surrounded with skulls and brass spy glasses. At first glance they made me recall Audrey Flack, with her hyper realist paintings of trinkets and photos. But the more I looked the more obvious it was that this was Lachapelle's take a familiar theme. 

Alongside the familiar old world objects, he has layered familiar products; pre-packaged food, fruit still in its cellophane, toys, mobile phones and cigarettes. Somehow he has managed to make everything look slightly over ripe and slightly tainted. 

Some of the flowers are beginning to wilt, some of the food is glistening with grease and sugar and the items all carefully arranged are reminiscent  of piles of garbage. Yet the overall look is beautiful.

Springtime David Lachapelle

A brush with mortality made Lachapelle question life, and explains this change in artistic direction. I really admire his views about transition, he is very philosophical about life and death. Through The Earth Laughs in Flowers we can find the beauty in those transitions and constant change. Having left commercial and fashion photography at the peak of his success you can really feel his new outlook and understanding of life.

Although these works are still dripping with plastic allure and the concept has been tackled before by others I find the painterly photographs very refreshing and highly provocative. Having been one of my favourite artists for some time this work impresses me perhaps more than some of his more playful commercial photos of earlier years.

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