paolo reversi at the wapping project bankside

8 March 2012 § Leave a comment

I dropped in recently to the very pleasant Wapping Project Bankside space in Hopton Street, just a latte’s throw away from the Tate Modern, to see what they had on. It turned out to be Paolo Roversi – not a name that I was familiar with, but apparently ‘one of the most esteemed fashion photographers currently working’.

I have seen similar phrases quite often, usually where photographic galleries seek to monetise fashion photographers’ back catalogues of stored work. Fashion images are naturally usually taken for one-off magazine publication before being consigned to storage, but in this case it the published phrase held up to scrutiny with Roversi actually being truly revered in the industry and these works being genuinely interesting.

Having started working with Associated Press in 1970 Roversi moved in to fashion in Paris in the 1970’s. A Dior campaign in 1980 made his name and since then he has continued from his minimal Paris studio working with names like Comme des Garcons, YSL, Dior and Valentino and featuring in exhibitions in many of the worlds top museums.

It does not take long viewing these images before you realise that Roversi’s work was somewhat more interesting than the typical fashion photographer – an early give-away being that many of the images do not feature any fashion or even any clothes at all! His work is delicate and ethereal featuring models, of both sexes, chosen for their enigmatic and mysterious looks are pictured against simple backdrops.  All are taken with a 10×8 tripod-mounted camera which provides a distinctive appearance – shallow depth of field, occasional blurring and an old-fashioned ‘look’, helped here by the fact that almost all the images are in black and white.

He has said ‘I started to work with this camera for its size, the 8×10 format. Taking pictures one by one is a slow procedure. I found my way through this camera— how to work. It was the ideal way to express myself. By now, I know it very well. It has become a part of my skin; my blood.’

This is a lovely small exhibition in an attractive space, well worth a stop on the way to the Tate (or vice-versa!).

At the Wapping Project Bankside until 31 March 2012

PS: ‘Lips’ is not in the exhibition but a nice example of his unusal work…

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