The fashion photographs on display for Old Future, American photographer Erik Madigan Heck’s current exhibition at Toronto’s Nicholas Metivier Gallery, are visually arresting. Distinctively bold in both colour and composition, Heck’s images reflect his deep personal interests in the complementary, but also occasionally discordant subjects of handcrafted, fashionable clothing, and timeless, objective beauty.
Featuring runway looks by designers including Junya Watanabe and Stella McCartney, the stunning photographs—many originally commissioned by New York Magazine, although Heck is also a frequent contributor to The New York Times, GQ, and Harper’s Bazaar UK—showcase Heck’s remarkable talent for fashion portraiture. While Heck does not explicitly intend to reference specific works of art, there’s an intentional, painterly quality to his photographs, and he’s spoken of his admiration for painters such as Édouard Vuillard, Edgar Degas, Marlene Dumas, and Gerhard Richter. “I really disliked colour photography,” says Heck, when explaining his creative process. “I still do, to a certain point. [When I use it, it’s to] make the clothes come to life, in a surreal way.”
Most of Heck’s fashion photographs use natural light and intricately planned sets to create graphic arrangements, then are digitally manipulated in post-production for a hyper-real and dreamlike effect. Although many were originally published as part of extended fashion stories, each image is remarkably effective on its own, outside of the original editorial context. This standalone power is Heck’s intent. “You should produce singular images, because that’s what people are looking at, what people are responding to,” says Heck.
Old Future is on at the Nicholas Metivier Gallery in Toronto until May 5, 2018.
Images courtesy of Nicholas Metivier Gallery.
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