FAC - Curved Wall Gallery
2020 Date TBC
Photographer Bronwyn Kidd exhibits exquisite, nostalgic, triumphal high-fashion imagery of two vital decades across the turn of the century and their radically changing styles.
Bronwyn Kidd (born 1969) is an Australian photographer known for fashion and portraiture. Her #STYLE exhibition sums up a triumphal period in a career that for most remains a dream…to photograph the height of fashion. It spans more than two vital decades across the turn of the century and their radically changing styles.
Fashion photography is the camera art most closely scrutinised, and by the largest audience. But its aesthetics are absorbed unconsciously by those of us who think we are looking at then clothing as embodiments of desire as powerful as that of politics, power and wealth and which enfold those very cravings. This show reveals how that allure is created.
In Kidd’s imagery is the meeting of arts; of sculpture, in the garment that transfigures the human form; of theatre, as performed by the model, by the set dressers and the lighting crew; and of the photographer who is the symphonic conductor of all.
The high art and finesse of the fashion seen here - of Hardy Amies, Jane Hill, Julien MacDonald, Neil Cunningham, or that by Bella Freud, Jimmy Choo, and Bruce Oldfield who appear in Bronwyn’s engaging portraits - Bronwyn matches with her photographs. That is the stature of her achievement.
Bronwyn’s dream of emulating her magazine heroes by entering their profession was realised early. She taught herself colour printing at high school, left RMIT before finishing her degree to accelerate through a series of internships and assistant gigs around Melbourne, gaining an intimate understanding of ‘who is who’ in the industry, how they had got there, and what she must do to realise her vaunting ambition.
She was ready, aged barely 23, as she launched herself into the fashion universe of London. That moment on the threshold is echoed in the earliest picture here; in 1993, model Paula Hamilton, a favourite of Hardy Amies and known from the 'Changes' Volkswagen commercial in which she was directed by David Bailey, stood before her like the winged Nike of Samothrace. “I was just 24, and photographing such beautifully designed and crafted garments and having a model like Paula in front of the lens set the bar for me. She brushed luminous white powder above her cheek bones to reflect the light, a technique I only photographed again as used on the iconic Tania Mallet a.k.a. Goldfinger’s Tilly Masterson. I shot 200 rolls of colour transparency film over 2 days!”
Bronwyn’s prints themselves are objects of desire; the original transparency from that 1993 shoot has been scanned and matched to the original by Visual Thing retouchers for this exquisite pigment inkjet print by Thirds Fine Art Printing.
In Bronwyn’s work, her worship of a whole history of fashion photography unfolds in homages to Cecil Beaton’s iconoclastic tearing and painting of the backdrop, to the subtlest pearlescent lighting of John French, the street savvy of Saul Leiter or the lightning wit of Guy Bourdin.But most of all it is Bronwyn, a woman of warmth and humanity, that we see reflected in the faces of her models, and the easy pose of Jessica Hart, Australian model in New York for a 2009 Melbourne Fashion Week Commission. There is the secret allure of these glorious photographs.
Homage to John French, London, 1995
Selenium Toned Gelatin Silver Print (2019) 42.6 x 40.4cm
© Bronwyn Kidd, courtesy of the artist and MARS Gallery (Melbourne)
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