Jean-Franc̹ois Lepage’s re-worked photographs are at the intersection of painting, cinema and photography as he merges fashion photography art and sculpture. Following the recent opening of the his online exhibition at the Hauser + Hauser web gallery, Dazed chats to the French artist about the inspiration for his unique artistic style.
I'm not really doing collage, I work directly on the original, I engrave and cut the negative or the slide and I often use staples to fix the pieces together. This part of my work is a kind of mixed grunge-punk post-cubism
Dazed Digital: What or who influences your work?
Jean-Franc̹ois Lepage: When I was young, my favourite photographers were reporters or “street photographers” like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eugene Smith and Robert Frank. My influences also come from movies and painters, such as Velasquez and the work of filmmakers such as Dreyer, Fritz Lang, Eisenstein, Hitchcock, Mankiewicz, Minnelli, Wells, Antonioni, Visconti, Kubrick.
DD: Your latest body of work features the re-working of images, through illustration, collage, etc., what enticed you to re-work photographs in this way?
Jean-Franc̹ois Lepage: Photography is like any medium, you can play with it. I'm not really doing collage, I work directly on the original, I engrave and cut the negative or the slide and I often use staples to fix the pieces together. This part of my work is a kind of mixed grunge-punk post-cubism.
DD: What about the human body/human psyche entices you?
Jean-Franc̹ois Lepage: One does not really go without the other, looking at the body of someone, his attitudes, his hesitations, his way of moving, tells us a lot about his personality, the unspoken, the fragility, but also the will. There are a certain self-giving in people who accept to be photographed with great freedom, they are not giving only their body but much more sentiments and emotions than they would or could express only with words. Photography is a two-faced mirror where you can see the other and yourself, at least this is how I feel.
DD: Does fashion play a part in your work?
Jean-Franc̹ois Lepage: My approach is similar than a lot of painters and sculptors did for centuries, I just represent an image of a person wearing contemporary outfits. I'm a fashion photographer, but paradoxically I've never been particularly attracted by the classical vision of the perfect woman we often see in advertisements and magazines. I believe there are different ways of seeing beauty, I think I prefer the mysterious one rather than the glamorous. I'm the kind of person who loves ugly beautiful things or beautiful ugly things. Fashion influences my images, like clouds influences the landscape, no more, no less.
The Jean-Franc̹ois Lepage online exhibition will be available at Hauser + Hauser until 31 August, 2012