Willy Vanderperre moved to Antwerp in the early ’90s to study fashion design at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts before switching to photography. Since then, he’s distinguished himself as one of the most influential artists of his kind — shooting editorials and campaigns for renowned publications and fashion houses. This week, he opens a show, “prints, film, posters, and more" at Red Hook Labs in Brooklyn, consisting of nearly 60 pieces that span his more than 20-year career.
The exhibition features work not only from his fashion spreads, but also from recent, and lesser-known, projects in the worlds of contemporary dance, theater and film. Pictures range from a sequin-clad model washed in eerie red light from a recent editorial, to two crowned men passionately locked in a kiss from a scene in the 2012 production of Jan Fabre’s 1984 masterpiece, “The Power of Theatrical Madness,” to tightly cropped shots of the bandaged foot of French ballet dancer Marie Agnes Gillot. “Each image talks and carries an emotion and is an image on its own, but I think when people walk through the show — even though the images are not really connected to each other — they will find a connection.” Though varied in subject and source, all exhibit the intense, sometimes dark and confrontational emotion associated with Vanderperre’s work.
Red Hook Labs, a 7,000-square-foot studio and gallery space, was established in part as an educational initiative for creative young adults. On opening night, video footage of the Belgian post-metal band Amenra will be projected on a screen behind a chain-link fence in an adjacent parking lot. Inside, limited-edition merchandise (including T-shirts, pins and removable tattoos) will be for sale — as well as posters that are interspersed with pictures on the gallery walls. For Vanderperre, however, these things are not simply merchandise — a word he’s wary of using. “It will feel like you are buying a piece of art equally and to the same standards as the fine art prints themselves,” he says. “If you take something as simple as a patch or a bag and put it next to a fine art print, it elevates its meaning.”
He is also known for his affinity for youth culture; for this reason, it was important to him that the art be presented in an approachable way, and that the art for sale be accessible to the younger generation. “Sometimes people forget who their audience is,” says Vanderperre. “It’s important to reach out to those kids — those are the people you work for, who inspire you and who you try to inspire. It should be an emotional journey, right?”Continue reading the main story