ALI MAHDAVI: PERFORMING GLAMOUR
Interview to the obsessively glamour-focused Iranian artist and photographer: Ali Mahdavi
When glamour becomes art, Ali Mahdavi's
talent features go on stage. At once fashion photographer, designer, illustrator, project artist, makes, this young versatile spirit one of the most representative contemporary artistic figures of his generation, that observes and translates at best the aesthetic sense of his era.
Born in Teheran (Iran) in 1974 and grown up artistically in Paris, where he now lives and works, he has rewritten lines of glamour in photography, and is definitely a new face for glam, for luxury and fascination.
An absolute artistic career for Mahdavi: he graduated at “Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux- Arts”
in Paris, studied at “Ecole Boulle”
and “l’Ecole Nationale des Artes Appliqués Duperré“
, designer for the fashion brand Thierry Mugler, Royal College of London, San Francisco Art Institute. Today Ali Mahdavi integrates Philippe Decouflé with another creative and severe dimension as Artistic Director at “Crazy Horse”
, the famous Parisian cabaret place with the best chic nude shows in the world, back to old splendor.
Ali Mahdavi has audacity and wit for photography. He has a singular way to dress his subjects: by highlighting and giving a sophisticated approach to design, he gives life to extraordinary portraits. We could describe his works as obsessively glamour
He did Photo shooting
for many Magazines and Editors: Vogue Homme International, Vanity Fair, Numero Homme, Dazed & Confused, ID, Citizen K, German Vogue, Russian Vogue, etc…
Un portfolio che conta numerose celebrities: Naomi Watts, Monica Bellucci, Jean Paul Gaultier, Donatella Versace, Yohiji Yamamoto, Karl Lagerfeld, Dita Von Teese, Tilda Swinton, Vincent Cassel, Catherine Deneuve, Tom Ford.. .. (just to mention some of them).
nurtures a sharp sense of aesthetics and propones a very personal vision of women. Associating intelligence and creativity, he recognizes and celebrates the archetype of the seductive woman, carrier of ultra-femininity and a sort of powerful neurosis. Deliberately audacious and sexy, but even triumphant, carnal, desirable. All-accomplished fertile cleverness in artistic photos, advertisement photos, fashion photos, photos of stars and of icons. His works are recognized and admired for his consideration regarding body and for the beauty and the exclusive atmosphere he puts up.
Well-known talented artist that expresses himself by photography, but also by films, illustrations and shows. His job is professional and surgical, such is the precision of every little detail. Unique and amazing aesthete, Ali Mahdavi, due to his eagerness to transform, has chosen to remain on the same side of desire, in order to reach perfection of beauty which explores.
Even if you are so young, you already have lots of experience. Do you think that fashion photography has changed during the last ten years? If yes, in which way do you think it did?
R - Thanks for saying “young”… (ha smiles). I am 37 though, and I would no way want to go back being 20 again , yet inside I am like a 12 year old boy.
As regards fashion photography, I think that things have changed a lot during the last 20 years. Before that photographers had to have a precise style, a designer label… one could recognize their works in magazines and advertisement without looking at their names: Newton, Avedon, Bourdin, Deborah Turbeville, Ellen Von Unwerth, Peter Lindbergh and many others all have a strong personality. Today pictures don’t really have something to say, they are all interchangeable. Editors have us in their power and they mostly need performers. Today you no longer chose a photographer for his talent, but for his reputation, which is often unpredictable. For example, if you are handsome, pleasant, young, diligent and if you are going out with an editor or top model, you have more probability to become successful. Nowadays nobody looks at your works, what really matters is how it will appear to the “medias”… it is a power game in which magazines and clients must have such and such name to be believable.
Do you think that your background and origins have formed your aesthetics?
R - Origins always influence in some way, even if in my case, indirectly. What has been fundamental during my career, were my art and design studies. I have to thank the Belle Arti School in Paris, where I graduated with the jury’s unanimous congratulations. I think design is at the base of any artistic creation, while opening my mind to subconscious, psychoanalysis made my creativity explode and major influences come from cinema: Sternberg, Bunuel, Fassbinder, Michael Powell or Douglas Sirk are only some of them, and have been my private teachers.
Did working as a fashion designer help you learn more about fashion photography?
R - Absolutely yes. I can say that thanks to this my fashion knowledge went beyond that of most photographers. I can speak about Jacques Heim and Maguy Rouff, I know where a neckline should be and I know what an Italian neck is; and in this way I can increase its value. You should never forget that in the term Fashion photograph there is the word Fashion, but I think that more than my past fashion experience, there is my deep knowledge of anatomy that makes me a photographer which is not so wicked.
Why has the Crazy Horse always fascinated you?
R - When you get to know my job, it becomes obvious… extreme Glamour, women’s supremacy, sublimation of natural through artifice, the maniacal need to have light serving beauty, the relation with darkness, mystery or death, the unrelenting and dangerous power of these creatures. Icy eroticism and the relationship with anatomy, which is one of my passions.
What does it mean to you to work for a magazine or a brand?
R - It is the opportunity to explore new places, thanks to Magazine’s and Brand’s codes and restrictions. I love orders, adapting to a style or a brand, remaining always myself, it is really thrilling and richness in all senses of the word.
Which part of your body is more involved while shooting? Your heart, your eyes, your mind, your stomach, or whatever else?
R - Well, nice question… I’d say my mouth. When I hesitate for something, my mouth must water..
Some art pictures somehow remind us a bit the old Pierre Molinier pictures, do you agree?
R - Absolutely. I really love this artist’s works, but I never refer to him directly. The immages are in my mind and appear to me in different shapes, without always being aware of it.
What fascinates you?
R - Love.
What are you working at now and what are your future plans?
R - I have just finished my first full-length narrative, “Forbidden Love”, with Dita Von Tess and the young talented actor Djanis Bouziany; a story on drugs and incest.. and I am working on two full-length scripts, one with Jean Claude Carriere, which is a legend of French Cinema: it recalls Cabaret Movie, which takes place in Iran during changing of government from Shah to Islamic Republic. Cinema really is my primary interest at the moment. It is as if all my experiences and everything regarding my job seem to bring me only in this direction.
Interview and Pictures Courtesy of © Ali Mahdavi(di Rosalba Radica - del 2012-04-04)
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