Between art, strangeness and derision, the Dutch photographer presents his conception of fashion and beauty in his exhibition FASHION at the Foam Gallery in Amsterdam.
Since the beginning of his career, Paul Kooiker has been quick to break free from the dominant paradigms of fashion and beauty. The 59-year-old photographer from Rotterdam has built his own visual universe, as conceptual as it is experimental. His credo: to divert the precepts of the industry by pushing to the extreme the shape of the bodies, with artificial extensions, wigs and all kinds of accessories. Everything is thus distorted in narratives where fetishism, surrealism, fragmentation, sculptural composition, art brut and the play of light and shadow propel us into a parallel and strange world. The Foam gallery in Amsterdam is dedicating a second exhibition to him after “Paradise Twenty-One” in 2006. “FASHION” brings together a variety of images from his fashion commissions in a “hall of mirrors” style, freezing “the speed of the industry” and revealing “the absurdity of human desire”.
Pictures out of time
His exhibited photographs are taken on iPhone, feeding more and more this language detached from conventions. Through the smartphone, which has become the symbolic tool of an increasingly narcissistic society, the iconoclastic artist proudly displays the reality of bodies without filters. Because what he likes in photography is “the imperfection”. Here, as usual, his models adopt unusual or banned postures and poses of the genre, with their faces hidden or left out of frame, masking their identity. In sepia black and white, this surrealist enthusiast creates timeless images, disconnected from time and place, or as if taken from films. With humor and derision, Paul Kooiker manages to flout diktats, playing on the fetishization of bodies and unfulfilled desires – almost Freudian, as the gallery points out. His work frees itself from all superficiality in favor of a raw and frontal sensuality that invites the viewer to imagine stories.
FOAM in Amsterdam
Until February 12, 2023