It is great to get a chance to use the Heart Fairs header picture, of David LaChapelle giving his talk at the first ever Art Stage Singapore art fair. For a little more about this picture visit the FAQ of this blog.
The program of talks at Art Stage was good overall.
These things are always a major draw card for me, and this time was no different - I intended to see it all! I learnt so much from the LaChapelle talk that it became my unexpected personal highlight.
waiting for the Art Stage guest of honour
Ok, so on to the actual reasons why I keep going on about this talk....
Note: I'm not going to talk about the style and content of his photographs, I'm not reviewing - i'm not at work right now!!
Professional interests aside for a second, I loved this talk for personal reasons.
First of all, I didnt know what to expect, having heard of David LaChapelle I was not a huge fan and not particularly informed about his work. Having said that, I didnt mind it either. He always had an easy inroad in convincing me because I love fashion and celebrity and he started out in magazines. Some of his work is heaven in that sense - extreme, stylised and glossy. A lot of people dislike him entirely on the grounds that he has photographed celebs, but that's not me.
Many of the slides he showed were of images that I had seen and fallen in love with from magazines I pored over when I was younger than 15! Like this one of Drew Barrymore - it had a massive impact on me in the 90s, so big that I can REMEMBER the first time I turned the page and saw it, and I can remember what Barrymore's celebrity FELT like to me at that time. It also reminds me of hilarious things about my adolescence like watching Corey Haim in The Lost Boys and River Pheonix in Stand By Me over and over again, and reading the True Romance screenplay like a novel.
And the next time I saw this photo was at Art Stage. When the universe delivers thing to you like that... it's weird and great and eerie.
And nowadays, being an art meets consumerism mega-fan, loving when luxury and fashion and contemporary art collide, I cant believe it took me this long to learn a bit more about this guy.
Next, I liked LaChapelle's friendly personality. Having never heard him speak before, I was pleased to find he was (so talented but) so laid back. He had stories about interesting experiences and fascinating people he had met, (wont go into his bio here) and I could sense (well he made it pretty clear) he had kind of happily and nonchalantly dealt with criticism throughout his career. I like that - people who are in creative fields but dont bullshit or try too hard to prove themselves. So, I could go on about this aspect of the talk too, but I wont (anymore).
Then, he alluded a few times to a favourite topic; call it whatever you want, I just call it spirituality. So, without going into it here, I love that stuff and Ive come across it in the form of peacefulness + open-mindedness in a lot of creative Americans recently. LaChapelle copped it for some of his work referencing religious imagery which some people (of course & understandably) managed to find controversial, and which he (understandably) hadnt intended to be anything much. The way he had obviously dealt with that scrutiny, when he hadnt intended to offend, and the way he talked about it all, I totally got it. And he spoke about the very recent suicide of the great Alexander Lee McQueen, and about Isabella Blow's suicide too, so beautifully while presenting their photo (above).
And lastly, the art work and concepts were so rad, the info on the trajectory of his career from creative fashion photographer (see hurricane shoot image below) to artist was so interesting, and the descriptions of the technical side of things were so, so cool. Will post a Madonna picture below also - it's not digital manipulation people!!!
So, thank you Art Stage and David LaChapelle for a great talk at which I resonated with heaps and learned even more.