Monday, August 23, 2010

Paul Brickman Photography

It’s been a minute, but happy to be back.

Recently, I had the great pleasure of meeting young and upcoming New York photographer Paul Brickman. After scoping out his work, we met for drinks.

Brickman started building his portfolio in editorial, working with some particularly well-known fashion brands and individuals. Personally, I was interested in Brickman’s images due to their simple beauty and engaging quality. Most of all, I was really drawn to his portraits of musicians and performing artists. You can tell that Brickman has put a lot of care into these portraits, and he developed a relationship that allowed him access to his subjects’ most intimate moments. His Man on the Moon (2008) was so beautiful that I stole a business card with the image just to have a copy.

But what really took me aback was his latest project, Like a Lamb to the Slaughter. Dynamic, funny, pop, utterly bizarre, and at times very dark, this series showcases this young talent’s transition from interesting, compelling but rather safe subject matter to something deeper – a more textured and complicated critique of a youthful consumer subculture and lifestyle, tapping into his own experiences in the fashion industry.

Brickman may be critical, but he is no misanthrope – in fact, the use of the lamb masks started at a party as a joke. Brickman noted the mask’s effect on the public and decided to use the mask as a jumping-off point for a much larger endeavor. I think that particular detail serves the overall project quite well: the sense of bacchanal-type revelry is very much present in the series, albeit with a rather disturbing twist.

Unlike previous works with which Brickman seems to capture a quieter, more reflective and personal subject, Brickman’s anonymous lambs are audacious and rambunctious, not giving a shit about what anybody thinks as they perfectly mimic models, celebrities, and socialites. Brickman’s strongest images, I believe, are those that feature his lambs outright engaging with the viewer. Brickman’s photograph of the lamb in the pool, for example, is all at once amusing and sinister and excessive. The unexpected mask highlights the farcical quality of the rest of the surroundings - a scenario which would have otherwise left us more or less desensitized had it been left untampered.

We’ve seen a lot of these uncanny images of animal-people in fashion recently, from the H&M runway to window displays, seemingly without a hint of irony or Donnie Darko-like menace. As the fashion world grapples with itself, from the over-seriousness displayed by the Old Guard to the sensationalized Lindsay Lohan moment and the struggle to find new eyes and voices (Tavi, anyone?), it’s refreshing to see images that so effortlessly mock the absurdities of the industry, production to press.

Images compliments of Paul Brickman .
Image of Brickman compliments of Tatyana Bevz.

1 comment:

  1. I met him in college and had the pleasure of doing his makeup for a show. =) Love him and he deserves the attn!!