Photographer David Collins for Style Voyeur

I literally do not have the words to explain my love of the emerging artist and incredible talent on the rise, photographer, David Collins. Nothing I say could do him enough justice or compare to how I feel about this guy’s abilities and potential. The first time I saw his work, I had the same feeling as when I first discovered Jaime Lee in TAFE all those years ago and while I can’t take credit for discovering David, I certainly feel blessed to know that he exists in this world, it is rather exciting. So in saying that, (did I end up saying something after all?) all I can do is let him show you himself what I am talking about (or not talking about)? See I am giddy already.

Here is your little glimpse inside the remarkable brain of one of Style Voyeur’s most highly anticipated up-and-comers, as he shares his inspirations with you all on his journey as Guest Blogger for Style Voyeur. Words, photography and sourced imagery by David Collins.

This is by far the most epic post in the history of SV, sit back, relax and enjoy….

Alexander McQueen

There is a formula for pretty. Basic symmetry, clean lines and minimal detail. Pretty is nice but ultimately forgettable. It is easy on the eye and we don’t really need to think when we look at it. Pretty can be a good building block to start with but it is essentially an inoffensive canvas. Beauty, however, takes you by surprise. It moves us, and we don’t know why. No matter how long you look at it you can’t put your finger on where it came from and you feel it in the pit of your stomach, long after it is gone, leaving you craving more. It can be scary, confronting, melancholy and abrasive. Completely subjective, beauty can take time to learn to see. Most of us don’t like to be confronted and are only to happy to settle for pretty. The collections of Alexander McQueen were beautiful bodies of art. The man was clearly never pre occupied with making pretty designs. His clothes were forces of nature. Completely inspired, you could never anticipate what would come next from this great man. Each season was an exploration into a topic close to the heart of McQueen himself. He never relied on convention. His fashion shows were performance art, giving the models a stage to live in the clothes and evoke the essence of his inspiration.

My personal favorite is Voss s/s 2001 (first image of this post above) where the runway is a room comprised of one-way glass, at the end of the show a mirror box in the middle of the room smashes open to reveal a voluptuous nude fetish writer, Michelle Olley in a gas mask surrounded by butterflies and moths (in a pose inspired by Joel Peter Witkin’s photography). Confronting an audience accustomed to conventional standards of beauty (you can see some of these amazing shows here.)

McQueen is a huge inspiration in the way I seek out beauty in my work. I have been inspired by the way he utilises materials (shells, bone, feathers, glass test strips, taxidermy animals) to make the medium of his clothes reflect the meaning of the work.

How he inspired performance in the models he worked with. He never took the easy way out by falling back on simply ‘pretty designs’ and I hope to create memorable works by never relying on that set formula.

David Collins ‘What Yo Pappa Said’ 2011

David Collins ‘Butterfly Pie’ 2012. Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery Permanent collection

 

Daphne Guinness

I couldn’t mention McQueen without going on to explain the relevance of the artist Daphne Guinness. If McQueen is the artist that created the clothes, Guinness is the woman that lives in them (Guinness grew up surrounded by artists, her mother was muse to Dali and Man Ray). I find it important in my work that no matter how extravagant the outfits and make up may be, the vibe must be created to suspend disbelief so that you truly believe they are lived in as clothes, rather than costumes. Guinness is living proof that clothes as art can be worn in everyday life.

She describes the layering of extravagant clothes and jewelry as armor between her and the world. To me it seems as though it is part of the world she curates around her, of exquisitely designed excess. The closest to achieving this before her was McQueen’s late muse Isabella blow. Others have tried, (Lady Gaga) yet Guinness is the most successful in making such exceptional style look like a natural part of her life.

Bernardo Bertolucci

Bertolucci ‘The Dreamers’ 2003

A huge cinematic influence has been the films of Bernardo Bertolucci. The visuals of his films are stunning with beautiful light European designs featuring, selected by wardrobe designer Louise Stjernsward. Two stand-out films for me are ‘The Dreamers’(2003) and ‘Stealing Beauty'(1996). Excessively throughout the films, the young fresh faced characters parade around carelessly nude, except for one piece of everyday clothing thrown on in an almost fetishistic manner. I will openly admit to appropriating the long black suede gloves worn by Eva Green in her sumptuous imitation of the Venus de milo (The Dreamers). I’m personally guilty of searching high and low for a version of the 60’s green velvet Gucci dinner jacket worn by Louise Garrel as Theo. (After giving up all hope I was delighted to find a similar one in Target of all places for $20).

The dress, which haunts me, is the transparent pastel floral full-length evening gown, a reoccurring icon in Bertolucci’s films. (Valentino utilises a similar classic design, including muted pastels, floral print and transpenancy in his 2011 Spring Haute Couture collection.)

Liv Tyler ‘Stealing Beauty’1996

Eva Green ‘The Dreamers’2003

Valentino S/S hc 2011

The dress first makes its appearance briefly in ‘Novecento’(1976) only to re-appear on Liv Tyler in ‘Stealing Beauty’. We see it again in ‘The Dreamers’ on Eva Green, the way the transparent dress accentuates the femininity and elegant nature of Green’s movement without veiling her nudity. This is something I aim for in my work, to add an ethereal quality to the women I photograph.

David Collins & Nikita Ward ‘Untitled’ 2008

David Collins ‘She’s not my girlfriend’ 2011

 

Bob Richardson

Photographic icon of the 60’s and father of the infamous Terry Richardson, Bob Richardson was at the forefront of the revolution of fashion photography. Not enough credit is given to Richardson for his immense contribution to the evolution from classical upper class glamour photography, like those of Cecil Beaton to the grittier, documentary style fashion photography emerging into the 60’s. Although David Bailey is given most of the credit for this change, whilst he was shooting pop icons and prettier, lighter muses like Jean Shrimpton, Richardson created a darker melancholy narrative with the striking Angelica Huston as a major source of inspiration. Richardson found a way to choreograph a highly stylised scenario, while keeping it fresh and impromptu, as if it is being lived in. He placed his subjects in harsh, gritty landscapes, stormy county sides or dirty cities. Powerful figures looking real, we can see their pores, the lines on their faces. We are seduced by the hyper reality of it all. It is sexy because we believe it.

Bob Richardson

The trend in recent fashion photography seems to be to airbrush everything to oblivion, smooth and simplified. Richardson goes in the opposite direction. We can feel the texture of every surface. It’s a hyper reality, existing in a condensed space and captured on the grainy push proceeded black and white film. It’s my intention to never abandon an element of this dirty aesthetic in my work. Without it I feel all I would be left with is a sterile, forgettable image that lacks the personality that comes with imperfection.

David Collins ‘Tuesday’ 2012. Art Gallery of Western Australia permanent collection.

David Collins ‘Untitled’ 2007

David Collins ‘Untitled’ 2007

 

Richard Avedon

Avedon’s could be described as poetry in motion. When I think of his work, I think of models running, jumping and moving freely in front of his camera. Avedon works around his subject rather than making the model work specifically in the line of the camera. I like to be surprised when taking photos, see something you didn’t expect to see and come away with a result I couldn’t have anticipated. Whenever I feel the need to inject something fresh, Avedon inspires me and I ask my models to jump around/flip their hair back and forth.

David Collins 2011

 

Gianni Versace

“You know, the guy that was so good at fashion they had to shoot him.” The somewhat insensitive line from ‘Father Ted’ really sums it all up. The word taste should never be mentioned concerning this man and his creations, he transcended it. In my work I like to create an opulent aesthetic, which in itself is a character within the work. The tiniest details from the costumes, to the interior design I feel, the layering of an aesthetic is essential in creating a mood and enforcing an idea. Gianni was king when it came to creating an opulent aesthetic. His estates would put Caligula to shame. Classically Italian Baroque, (with some leather thrown in for good measure) yet always distinguishably his, I find his furniture and homewares particularly awe-inspiring.

Through design he created a world to be consumed by, everything with his personal signature on it made it unique to the Versace brand. It is my hope that I can build a world from scratch in my work that is distinguishably mine for the viewer to be consumed by.

David Collins ‘You in the d’Orsay2’ 2009-12

David Collins ‘You in the d’Orsay’ 2009-11

David Collins ‘The Ghost’ 2011

 

Riccardo Tisci

Riccardo Tisci is probably best known as the creative mind responsible for breathing new life into fashion powerhouse Givenchy. Tisci has a talent for appropriating religious (predominantly drawing on his Catholic roots) and mythological (from Arabian knights to spaghetti westerns) iconography and re-contextualizing it so that these symbols we are all familiar with have new meaning and relate differently in regards to the grand narratives he draws on as inspiration. In an age where we can feel as though everything has been done and nothing is new Tisci takes what is old and reinvents it to make us actually look at what is in front of us and decide how these things are relevant to our contemporary lives. He has collaborated on creative projects with artists (Maria Abromovic), musicians (Jay-Z, Kanye West) and has an amazing working relationship with his models (notably MariaCarla Boscono and Lea T). His progressive attitude is responsible for making changes such as bringing the use of transgendered models into the norm; he is a revolutionary mind actively shaping views in 21st century.

In my work I attempt to redefine the viewers understanding of symbols we take for granted in everyday life. Through the use of these symbols, I aim to also alter our understanding of universally accepted grand narratives (those classic genre stories we can all relate to). I feel the best way to understand and learn what is happening on the forefront of creativity is to collaborate and communicate with other creative minds as Tisci dose to great effect.

David Collins 2011

David Collins ‘Mercury’ 2009

Steven Klein

Steven klein is not afraid to be confrontational in his work which can quite often be regarded as having over sexual and violently grotesque overtones. I feel he balances these elements perfectly with the beauty within his work, which seduces the viewer into consuming the entire image. I feel, as an artist, part of my role is to seduce an audience into looking at something they usually would be confronted by or wouldn’t want to ordinarily see in order to get a message or narrative across. Achieving this balance of content of appeal vs abject, does this.

David Collins ‘What is For’ 2011

 

Steven Meisel

I like to think of my photographic works as stills from a film that was never made. That what is captured is a moment of a narrative left mostly to the audience’s interpretation. I think of the production as a film, the lighting is paramount, a set is built, and music is played to create a mood. Quite often my subjects are given directions like actors rather than models. I have familiarised myself with as many of the necessary processes as possible so that I can have control to create the vision I have in mind.

Steven Meisel started his career doing all his styling, hair, make up, set design and lighting. He is a master of his trade and I find his editorial pieces inspiring for their strong narrative content and powerful distinct aesthetic. You can see he gets the most out of his models. Commonplace and predictable poses are rare within his work. Each shoot is unique, he does not resort to cheep tricks and repetition. He combines flawless narrative photography with elegant style.

David Collins. ‘Blue Egg Shells’ 2009

We end on my favourite picture of them all. It is incredibly hard to choose, but this is it for me.

David currently has a show entitled ‘White Rhino’ at Sydney’s Wagner Gallery until the 6th of June and will also be taking part in The Lawrence Wilson Gallery’s centenary project and exhibition which is coming up later in the year (they haven’t released dates yet). SV will keep you posted.

To read more about David Collins and see more of his work, visit his website. When you can, do try and get along to an exhibition as the works are presented in life size proportions and it is a spectacle to see in the flesh.

xxSVxx

29-05-2012

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2 Responses

  1. Paul heslop

    Love David’s work- the opulence reminds me of Peter Greenaway but David’s vision is more seductive to the viewer.

  2. Clare Wayne

    Now that was an interesting read…great quality too!

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