Moooi x Unseen

by Unseen September 20 2016

Explore the relationship between design and photography at the Moooi showroom. For Unseen Photo Fair and Festival 2016, Moooi has invited two artists – Isabelle Wenzel and Martin Usborne – to showcase their work to a wider audience. From the 23rd of September until the 8th of October, both artists’ work will be on display, in combination with Moooi’s selection of designs, at the Moooi Showroom.

Isabelle Wenzel’s most recent series moves between photography, painting and performance. Trained as an acrobat as well as a photographer, Wenzel has spent the past six years contorting herself into nearly-impossible positions in front of the camera, to create a series of faceless portraits. Using a 10-second, self-timer that allows her limited time to get into position, Wenzel creates images that turn our attention to the body, in these cases more akin to abstract sculpture.

In her latest series Paintings, Wenzel stages her performed portraits against vivid patterned backdrops, either painting her body so that it blends in, or stands out against her surroundings. Bold gestural brushstrokes cover both the background as well as her body. Playfully performing in front of the camera – at times as a chameleon blending into the background, other times standing out against it as an unfamiliar curious form – Wenzel moves between the subject and the object of her images. As such, she manages to humorously address the representation of women’s bodies in the media and popular culture today.

isabellewenzel_paintings4_5.jpg

Isabelle Wenzel is represented by Galerie Bart, Nijmegen/Amsterdam

Martin Usborne pushes the boundaries of the photographic portrait, taking Spanish hunting dogs as his subjects. His regal photographs unearth a more macabre side of his models, which on the surface appear to ooze pride, grace and elegance. His work is reminiscent of the muted colours of the 17th century painting – particularly the work of Velázquez, who served as a major inspiration to Usborne.

Each of his subjects belong to a group of around 50,000 hunting dogs, which are abandoned each year at the end of the Spanish hare – hunting season. Slower, older, somehow imperfect, or simply too costly to keep, these dogs are no longer valuable to the hunting world.

Usborne’s melancholic portraits draw attention to the supremely elegant Galgo, a Spanish Greyhound breed, as well as the lesser-known Podenco. Carefully lit, staged against classical painting style backdrops, Usborne’s models feature those dogs lucky enough to have found a centre where they are looked after.

Usborne pairs some of his images, in which the front portrait has a back. The backs often feature picturesque landscapes which became the homes of the less fortunate canine hunters. Roadsides, dry plains, riverbeds, ravines served as the places where most of these dogs are abandoned, and come to die. At Moooi Usborne’s images will be displayed as large – scale prints for the very first time, intensifying the quality and effect of his works and aggrandising his majestic subjects. 

Martin Usborne is represented by Flatland Gallery, Amsterdam.

Moooi Showroom & Brand Store
Westerstraat 187
1015 MA Amsterdam
moooi.com

Image credit:
(cover photo) Edge of town & Galgo, from the series 'Where Hunting Dogs Rest', 2015 © Martin Usborne/Flatland
(body images) Painting 4_5, from the series 'Paintings', 2016 © Isabelle Wenzel/Galerie Bart 
(below left) Painting 5_1, from the series 'Paintings', 2016 © Isabelle Wenzel/Galerie Bart
(below right) Galgo 4, from the series 'Where Hunting Dogs Rest', 2015 © Martin Usborne/Flatland