I See You in Everything by Inez and Vinoodh

The Ravestijn Gallery is proud to present I See You in Everything, the first solo exhibition at the gallery of the Dutch artist duo, Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, better known by their collaborative name Inez & Vinoodh. Without a singular theme or period, the exhibition will comprise of an array of work selected from a colossal career that sprawls over thirty years including photographs made for Vogue Paris, New York Times Magazine, Purple and The Face.  

Such a myriad of work is emblematic of Inez & Vinoodh; unrestricted by a fixed aesthetic and allowing their approach to be determined by those in front of the camera, the idea behind each photograph always take precedence. Each work is authored by their collective name and by eschewing further information of their individual roles, we are reminded of their devotion to the image and the person, rather than to context and expectation. And whilst their methodology is constantly responding and fluctuating, it is a persistent duality (both in their artistic work and in life as partners) that creates their unifying and unmistakable character. As Inez says herself, “there’s always a tension between the beautiful and the grotesque, the spiritual and the mundane, high fashion and low fashion, male and female”. Indeed, this duality can be seen in many of the works included in the exhibition. In Lucy Fer, the Estonian supermodel Carmen Kass is transmuted into a mythological three-headed creature; a vast flood of wiry haired faces sits atop her naked body and here the elegance and realism of the human form is pitted against monstrous fantasy.  

Dualism remains the nuanced personality of Inez & Vinoodh’s work but what is fundamental to their emergence is the pair’s pioneering use of digital technologies. In the early 1990s, they were the first to use software to mould their own, idiosyncratic vision in the context of fashion, beginning with the series For Your Pleasure, published in the April 1994 Issue of The Face. Flamboyant, stylised models were digitally pasted onto a swathe of stock images to create bizarre and audacious photographs that demonstrated a thoughtful embrace of a now often-viewed problematic paradigm shift. A Two-Tone Stretch Satin and Lace Pantsuit by Bertrand Marechal, another work on show in the exhibition, portrays a woman, dressed in a lustrous low-cut pantsuit and in a state of ecstasy, standing next to and holding the t-shirt of an ingenuous, smiling boy sitting on a doctor’s bed. The manipulation of the two images is balanced in such an astute manner that we are able to notice the hand of Inez & Vinoodh only just, allowing us to suspend our disbelief, if only for a moment. Although this way of working no longer dominates their oeuvre, often traded for a sensibility built entirely in the real, such a context is critical to understanding their art as a relentless dedication to the photographic medium.

Their maverick ways of working have facilitated a new perception of fashion photographs in the context of art, seeing their work grace the pages of fashion magazines and the walls of museums in equal measure. Thirty years on, Inez & Vinoodh still taunt the temporality of much modern fashion, trading trends for timeless photographs, some which are re-contextualised decades later, just as this exhibition intends to do.