Brussels-based photographer Pierre Debusschere may be known for his fashion work -and prestigious clients such as Raf Simons, Delvaux, Dior, Louis Vuitton or Italian Vogue- he nevertheless has a much wider repertoire. His latest exhibition, entitled ‘UNcovered’ and staged within the walls of the MAD building in the center of Brussels, is a powerful and intimate show mixing film and photography. ‘UNcovered’ explores key notions of identity, social roles and body representation, but it is not a didactic or divisive show. It invites us to reflect on immediacy instead, emphasizing the individuality of each subject. The Belgian worked 10 months on the exhibition, making it one of his most personal statements to date. We sat down with Debusschere to discuss his creative vision, his evolving relationship to the industry and why he loved being alone with his models.
Philippe Pourhashemi: With this exhibition, it feels that your work has become less ‘plastic’ and more direct than before. Do you see this change yourself?
Pierre Debusschere: I’m actually pleased you describe it this way, but it’s not really a change for me, more of an evolution. For this exhibition, I was interested in the idea of layers and masks. I also wanted to spend more time with the people I photographed.
PH: How long would an average sitting last?
PD: Around 2 hours each time. This was very different from shooting a fashion image where you are with a much larger team. I was on my own with the models every time and could really focus on them. I even did the make-up myself. That was quite pleasurable for me.
PH: The make-up is quite impressive. Was it easy to get people to take their clothes off?
PD: People knew they were going to be naked, but I didn’t shoot them like that straight away. They used their blankets first and the image happened gradually. There is one image in the show where you only see the blanket over the body for instance.
PH: How did you find your sitters?
PD: Some were people I spotted at parties, some were actual models I had worked with and wanted to have in the studio again. I was looking for diversity and different body types.
PH: It took you 10 months to put the exhibition together. Did you focus on this project only?
PD: No, I had to work at the same time, doing commercial and editorial commissions. Let’s say that there were quite a few sleepless nights, but I’m happy with the outcome.
PH: Did you photograph everyone in Brussels?
PD: Yes, I photographed all the sitters in my own studio in Forest. It was important for me that they lived here, too, and there is only one person in the show who is not from Brussels.
PH: How do you reconcile the commercial aspect of your work with more creative projects like this one? Is there a big divide between the two?
PD: Actually, I enjoy both aspects equally. Of course, it’s nice to work on an exhibition and have complete creative freedom, but I also like to collaborate with clients to understand what kind of imagery they’re looking for. In fact, I’m more comfortable with this aspect now than I was in the past.
PH: You listed the names of all the people who helped you with ‘UNcovered’. Why was that important for you?
PD: I really envisage this as a collective effort and this was my way to underline that.
PH: A lot of images within contemporary fashion photography seem interchangeable. How do you distinguish yourself?
PD: You could argue that everything has been done before, but I don’t believe that. It’s still possible to create engaging and innovative pictures, except that we all know there’s quite a bit of copying around. For me, there is a difference between using a reference to re-appropriate it within your work and simple copy paste. That is not the same process creatively.
PH: What did you want to communicate with ‘UNcovered’?
PD: My images are open doors. I like to raise questions within my work, but everyone is free to find their own interpretation.
/ Interview by Philippe Pourhashemi /
/ Images Courtesy of Pierre Debusschere /
July 12th - September 30th 2018
Wednesday to Sunday – 11 AM – 6 PM
Openings July 12th & September 7th 6PM-10PM
MAD, Place du nouveau marché aux grains, 10
Setting the tone in stone. What a perfect natural motto.
Van Den Weghe's aim is to introduce one of the masterpieces of nature into luxury homes. For over 60 years now, their Belgian atelier has been collecting stones from all over the world. In this amazing place, architects and clients are working in close collaboration with artisans. Stone is their shared passion, and they make it happen through expertise, technology and aesthetics.
Tanguy Van Quickenborne, owner, talks about Van Den Weghe and its DNA.
How can you describe Van Den Weghe?
Van Den Weghe is a company with a start-up mindset, working with an ancient craft. We are in love with aesthetics, design, art, architecture and beauty. Innovation is the key to everything we do. Pushing limits and boundaries is what we enjoy. You have to know the rules first in order to break them.
You are an art collector. What is the link between art and stone?
Yes indeed. Art is made by humans, stone is art made by nature. I have in fact two collections: art pieces and stone slabs.
What is you recipe to success?
Do what your mind and gut feeling tell you to do. Always do something else than all the rest.
What is your favorite stone and why?
A new stone we are going to receive shortly. When we receive a new stone, the feeling I get is the same as falling in love again: a new kind of stone to adore.
Why are you working in Belgium?
Because the company's history is Belgian. There are plenty of good craftsmen here. Luckily 50% of our projects are abroad.
What is your biggest achievement as a project?
It's difficult to say but we are very proud of the following projects: Penthouse Luc Tuymans designed by Glenn Sestig, Louvre Abu Dhabi for Jean Nouvel with Meyvaert Glass Engineering, a major job in Saint-Tropez we managed to deliver in 4 months time, the projects we do for Pierre Yovanovitch and Joseph Dirand, and the acquisitions of some companies.
Where are your clients from?
Our clients are from all over the world. They share the love for beauty, just like we do.
What is your professional background?
I started working in logistics for 2 years, but I knew very fast I wanted to work for my own company. I wanted to do something with art and architecture, and now that's where I am.
According to you, what makes the difference in Van Den Weghe?
The people we share the same values with. Our whole team.
What are your next projects in the upcoming years?
I don't know, we'll see what happens.
/ Interview by Julie Nysten /
/ Photography by Merel Hart /
/ Production by Michael Marson /
Celebrated NY artist Doug Abraham is well known for his pop-inflicted reworking of global clichés. His recent collaboration with Marc Jacobs demonstrates his dark and edgy take on images rejuvenating collaboration with fashion. He digs deep into sex and violence, when Art meets Fashion.
For Behind The Blinds, he tells us how and why.
Is sexy a particular kind of disgust?
It can be. A compassionate disgust.
How hard do you believe art and crime are related?
They're both defined by the institution.
Is fashion spreading beauty?
Could fashion images do without sexual stimulation?
Or with more... all images could do with more of everything... more more more.
There is a criminal feel to your images, do you consider yourself more like a criminal or a thief?
Do you find stuffed animals beautifuly awkward or just plain ugly?
I like cute things.
Are your images licking life or death?
One needs the other to be appreciated.
Are all fashion shoots about sexual penetration?
What scissors do you use, or are they all digital?
All images are made and sourced digitally.
If I was fortunate enough to touch a piece of paper I would draw on it before I cut it.
Would you rather work in fashion or for Apple?
I service all clients with equal enthusiasm.
When you cut, do you feel the image bleeding?
I'm a digital artist so I feel nothing as my medium is nothing.
What underwear are you wearing now?
If the world is a massive criminal stage, should an artist augment crime or make the existing crimes more visible?
I'm not a "should" person.
Is it ok to be a self-conscious fashion victim?
Yes, it's all ok.
Does fashion use more slaves than IT?
"Slave" is better as self defined.
Is violence sexy?
I try not to yuck other people's yum.
Do you enjoy spreading your art with Instagram?
Are you represented by a gallery?
When did you start?
On Instagram? 2013.
As an artist? 1984.
What is your favorite brand?
What did you create last?
A 5 min fashion horror film.
1 ARTIST / 10 FRIENDS
10 QUESTIONS / 10 ANSWERS
Simon Demeuter : Why is the bear a recurrent theme in your work?
In my work the bear refers to the animal totem image used in magical rituals.
Reading Michel Pastoureau’s book ‘L’ours. Histoire d’un roi déchu’ really inspired me.
Benoit Platéus : Is there any particular pottery piece that motivated you to create ceramics yourself?
A ‘Casanis’ Moorish head-like water pitcher I have seen at friends in the South-West of France 20 years ago.
Sandra Caltagirone : Your lastest work takes the form of exquisite corpses. Can you please explain this new artistic influence?
We started drawing exquisite corpses with my boyfriend , and I had this idea of giving them a 3-D aspect… Some sort of declaration of love I guess.
Florent Delval : Which devine figures your totems are supposed to call upon?
The spirit of my ancestors as for the real totems.
Florent Dubois : Do you think ceramics can have a queer touch?
Certainly, though I would not want my work to be perceived as mainly queer. Similarly I prefer to be recognized more as a sculptor than a ceramic artist.
David de Tscharner : What will be your next reincarnation?
A cat maybe… Everybody loves cats.
Jean-Baptiste Bernadet : What is your opinion about Tom Robbins’s quote "It’s never too late to have a happy childhood”?
It’s true that I tend to achieve fulfillment more slowly than others. For years I have been looking for a playground where I would feel at ease and now I am having the time of my life.
Barbara Cuglietta : If you could create a new word, what would it be?
Virginie Devillez : What do you think about Constantin Meunier and Social Realism in the 19th century?
I love Constantin Meunier’s sculptures and really appreciate the atmosphere that one can feel visiting his last workshop transformed into a museum (Rue de l’Abbaye à Ixelles)
Patrick Croes : What is the border between craftsmanship and contemporary art in your work?
My work and ideas are modern but strongly influenced by popular art. I suppose using pottery in my work gives it a crafstman’s dimension.
Watch them undress as they watch you dissolve into the summer heat ...
You are not dead you are meant to be HOT .
La Vierge Violente, Koji Wakamatsu (1969)
Paroxismus, Jesus Franco (1969)
La piscine, Jacques Deray (1969)
The Counsellor, Ridley Scott (2013)
Summer Lovers, Kandel Kleiser (1982)
Ten, Blake Edwards (1979)
Les pétroleuses, Christian Jaque (1971)
Domino, Tony Scott (2005)
L’enfer, Henri-Georges Clouzot (1964)
Tabu, F.W Murnau (1931)
Estate Violenta, Valerio Zurlini (1959)
Blame it on Rio!, Stanley Donen (1984)
/Selected by REMY RUSSOTTO/