This week I had the pleasure of popping in on an exhibition in Marylebone showcasing the most recent work of one of Hollywood’s most controversial photographers.
Tyler Shields is an ex-professional skateboarder who turned his attention to photography and went AWOL when he realised fashion magazines wouldn’t give him the freedom of expression he wanted. Since then, he’s created some of the most controversial and exciting images in Hollywood.
Shields’ infamous works have featured Lindsay Lohan covered in blood and he has been known to collect celebrities’ blood for art. Perhaps most memorably, last year he photographed his girlfriend and muse, Francesca Eastwood, sawing, torching and biting a Hermés Birkin bag. Upon seeing this piece, my heart skipped a beat, as I imagine many others did – the shocked reaction I’m sure Shields intended. Shields is a regular at Imitate Modern and his latest collection, like every other exhibit at this lovely space, runs for just a month until 23 March.
…the extensive use of colour, unseen in his previous work…
Chromatic could be called a change in direction for Shields; the extensive use of colour, unseen in his previous work, came as a result of a bet with friends, who claimed he was unable to use colour. In response, Shields bought several bags of Holi powder, imported them from India and gathered the cast of Revenge in a Los Angeles street to throw powder at each other. Shields certainly knows how to prove a point.
This collection is a beautiful mix of silhouettes that highlight the powder’s vibrant colours and the textures of the powder flying out at the camera whilst people fight, kiss and dance in the background. The nearest we come to the Birkin photograph is a pair of Louboutins covered in paint, but that’s nothing compared to fire and a chainsaw. The images are sexy, loud and yet intimate, you still feel like you’re looking in on a private celebration and the Holi powder flies out at you in an intimidating fashion.
The most engrossing images were those were the powder contrasted with eye colour and created some beautiful and unnerving images as Revenge actors stared into the camera, seemingly unaware they have paint all over their face. Chromatic Revenge is my favourite; the way the cast members look at each other, all with slightly different expressions, as they huddle together covered in eye-popping yellows and blues is absolutely stunning.
…almost immediately Googling how to get my hands on Holi powder…
More than anything, this collection is perfect for this time of year. It seemed almost escapist stepping into the space where colour and wild expression reigned, in stark contrast to the breezy spring chill outside. I left the exhibit feeling significantly brighter and lighter, almost immediately Googling how to get my hands on Holi powder. Shields has created images, with minimal Photoshop, that are engrossing, vibrant and beautiful, you can’t help but smile and feel a little jealous of those in the photographs. With this stunning use of Holi powder, a handful of beautiful people and a back street, Shields has proved that not only can he used colour, he can conquer it.