Surreal photography is a manifestation of the unconscious. It often produces works that meld fantasy, reality, beauty and distortions, conjuring a world beyond real through highly dramatic compositions. In the digital age, where fantastic images have become easier to produce and more readily accessible, surreal photography has lost some of its power to surprise, disorient, startle. For this reason, some artists have focused on taking photography to the limit, with the sole purpose of creating provoking, primitive images, rather than exploring new territories in surrealistic symbolism and meanings.
This week’s article focuses on two of such contemporary photographers, LOUIS BLANC and JÖRG HEIDENBERGERER. Their unique style and aesthetics got our attention, prompting a journey of discovery of their surreal view of the world, and the human body in particular. These artists do not aim to achieve a faithful representation of reality, their intention is, rather, narrative: to unlock ideas and images from their unconscious minds, finding magic and strange beauty in the unexpected and the uncanny, the disregarded and the unconventional.
THE PHOTOGRAPHER OF HUMAN LANDSCAPES.
Class of 1967, JÖRG HEIDENBERGER is based in Bavaria, Germany. A self-taught photographer, HEIDENBERGER is a software and application developer at a large IT service provider. Before discovering his talent for photography, HEIDENBERGER was passionate about climbing and running – and his enthusiasm for sport and trained bodies transpires throughout his outstanding work.
The aesthetics of surrealism are evident in his choice of themes, as well as in the way he renders them: illogical, unnerving scenes, human bodies composed as strange creatures, oneiric settings, and an almost Dalinian use of perspective.
HEIDENBERGER's best-known production is ‘CUBE’, a perfectly executed series of self-portraits taken with a wide angle, where the traditional perspective of the human body is distorted to convey a sense of restlessness and confusion.
THE BODY PHOTOGRAPHER.
Born in 1956, LOUIS BLANC, akas Loublanc, lives in the Toulouse region, France. BLANC is also a self-taught photographer, who developed his passion after a career as a construction manager in the public sector. The artist’s work is very graphic and defies reality, dwelling on unusual and surprising imagery which express visions free from conscious rational control.
Technical perfection is not the primary aim for BLANC, far more important are the mood and emotions he tries to convey through his theatrical representations, where a surprising world extends beyond our usual perceptions of it.
BLANC’s best-known work is ‘cORpuS’, a series of self-portraits with the photographer being the only subject. The series, which started in 2011, has continued to evolve over the years, and has more recently developed into the new production ‘Alter cORpuS’, where other models are also involved.
UNUSUAL PERSPECTIVES AND PURITY OF IMAGES.
The works of BLANC and HEIDENBERG are characterised by unusual perspectives, clarity of lines and purity of images. Their wide-angle portraits of the human body, often their own, are striking. Every muscle, every wrinkle, every detail is extraordinarily in focus. All poses are structured, organised or even geometric. They can be likened to sculpture and the two photographers to sculptors of the human body, exploring new points of view and angles to discover, often with surprise, a new body language and emotion.
Both artists use minimal digital post-production, primarily for contrast enhancement. Their work is almost always in black and white, with hard light and high contrast. In the words of HEIDENBERG, this is because “thoughts and bodies need no colour”.
SCULPTURING THE MALE BODY.
While ‘fine art nude’ is usually a synonym for female nudes, these artists are remarkable also because they have chosen to sublimate and make speak the inherent beauty of the male body.
In their portraits (and mostly self-portraits) they play with the twisting of bodies, creating unexpected images that distort the traditional perspective of the human body, presenting powerful and sometimes headless figures, almost sculptural compositions of hands, legs, arms, muscles and bones that convey a sense of power and energy. The bodies are deconstructed and transformed into abstract entities, with obvious references to classical sculpture but with surreal accents. A mix of classic and contemporary that does not leave anyone indifferent.
As a brand, we share these artists' desire to push the boundaries of what is achievable. We love their photographic techniques, which heighten texture through increased sharpness, detail and contrast: this is exactly what we also aim to achieve with our creations, designed to be thought-provoking, make a statement and stand out.
the editorial team.
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UNTAMED STREET is a contemporary men’s and women’s footwear brand, born from the union of London creative spirit with the Italian art of shoemaking. Our design code is inspired by modern and progressive arts, monochrome photography and urban landscapes. Bold and unapologetic, we blur the boundaries between art and fashion, embedding techniques used by painters and contemporary artists and fusing the artistry of luxury with the ethos and aspirations of modern city life.
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