It’s the general consensus of today’s art students that the Austrian figurative painter Egon Schiele is the fucking man. Mention his name to any kid who was an art major at LaGuardia and they’ll eagerly start nerding out about how his twisted, contorted figures evoke death, sex, intensity, the grotesquely erotic part of the human psyche we fear yet subconsciously want so desperately to embrace. Whoa, I think I just came. Anyway, just because someone inspires you who happens to be rad and interesting, does not make you (or your art) rad and interesting. I think this is the unfortunate case for Dutch photographer Aisha Zeijpveld and her recent series “What Remains”.
According to the internet, Zeijpveld was inspired particularly by Schiele’s paintings and sketches of “unfinished” figures. Zeijpveld wanted to capture this element of “unfinished-ness” in her own fine art portrait photography. So, did she do it? Kinda sometimes. Certain images in the series were more successful than others. For “What Remains”, Zeijpveld cut silhouettes out of cardboard and had her models pose semi-depressed within them, in an effort to create the illusion that they are disapearing into the background; but also in an attempt to re-create the deformation of the human figure coined by Egon Schiele.
The one of the images in the series particularly stands out as a semi-successful attempt. A man sitting at a table near some kind of statue that appears to be made out of coal or a similar substance (doo doo?) best creatures the illusion of a figure disappearing into it’s background and does have a Schiele- esque quality about it. Another image features a woman, seated with her back to lens, her limbs positioned through one of Zeijpveld’s cardboard cut outs. Again, the illusion 0f disappearing into the background worked out pretty good here, and the model’s gestures are reminiscent of a Schiele figure. I would even go so far as to call the composition balanced yet dynamic; ( we’ve known that posing a subject in a corner is psychologically compelling since Irvin Penn). This doesn’t change the fact that this shapely red-headed model is wearing a stupid tiny cardboard hat. What the fuck dude? That shit isn’t even cute when adorable Japanese girls do it.
There are, however, two images in this series that I dislike so much, I’m gonna dedicate a whole paragraph to talking shit about each of them. First of all, we got home boy with his hair flowing wearing some really strange eye wear that remind me of a bug or an alien or putting potato chips over your eyes and pretending they’re glasses because you’re an idiot. If you look from the bottom up, his arms do disappear into the background in a semi convincing manner, making it seem like he has little flappy sea creature flaps for arms. I’m down with sea life, but then as your eye travels upwards the obvious shadow of the cut out, is well, just that, obvious. You’re a photography attempting to create an illusion, does you has the photoshops? The card board cut out shadow seems intentionally left in, as if Zeijpveld wants us to see the cardboard cut out and know that that’s what we are looking at, by why? AND WHY IS HE WEARING THOSE STUPID FUCKING GLASSES?!
Second, we have this red headed chick again, who is just blatently holding a piece of fucking cardboard. Why do you think I care about this red-head holding a piece of fucking cardboard, Aisha Zeijpvled. If I wanted to look at that, I would just tell everyone’s favorite ginger, Super Chief founder Ed Zipco to hold a piece of cardboard. Ed says this image reminds him of www.grubhub.com . Are you evoking the twisted, contorted strangely sexual anatomy of Egon Schiele’s figures, Aisha Zeijpveld, or are we evoking food delievery? That reminds me, where the fuck is this pizza I ordered? Shit.
I mean, I’m not knocking attempting to re-create elements of painting in photography. Photographers have been doing it for years. Painting was around first. Photography is a realtively new technology compared to fucking cave drawings, right? Right. What I’m trying to say here is that I smoke too much weed for this cardboard to hold my attention for any longer than it’ll take you to read this review.Tweet