Viviane Sassen — PHOSPHOR: Art & Fashion 1990 – 2023
Now open at MEP, PHOSPHOR constitutes the first retrospective exhibition of work by Dutch artist Viviane Sassen. Bringing together more than 200 creations, the exhibition retraces 30 years of her career.
When shadows dance with light, it’s not a battle for dominance, but a spectacle of intensity. The stronger force takes the spotlight, shaping the mood and setting the tone. Dutch artist Viviane Sassen, in her exhibit at La Maison Européenne de la Photographie titled PHOSPHOR: Art & Fashion 1990 – 2023, masterfully displays the significance of light and dark, celebrating the relevance of each profound element.
Beyond that, Viviane also highlights the surreal allure of the human form and seemingly ordinary objects through her enchanting, hypnotic photographs.
Starting in fashion design, Viviane then pivoted into photography. Her work features vibrant colours, contrast between light and shadow, and unique portrayals of the human body. This artistic fusion propelled her to global acclaim, and her work was soon sought-after in both the fashion and the artistic industry.
PHOSPHOR boasts Viviane’s diverse series of works including ‘Umbra’, a visual narrative where emotions like anxiety and desire take on metaphorical forms. Here, surreal photographs featuring everyday objects and the human body entreat a captivating exploration of emotion.
Elsewhere, Viviane’s ‘Parasomnia’ and ‘Flamboya’ comprise photographs of Viviane’s visit to West Africa. Breathing life into the sense of displacement between “home and away”, as she describes it, this series of haunting and enigmatic photographs narrates a tale that seems to linger in the viewer’s mind. The latter series includes photographs with numerous subjects, captured in performative dimensions that emphasize their powerful presence within the frame.
PHOSPHOR also includes Viviane’s collaboration with creative director, stylist and fashion consultant Roxane Danset. This series of surreal images is emphasized by pigments, added to the photographs, that follow various unique geometries and forms. The images oscillate between sensual allure and tender intimacy, inviting viewers into a realm of creative aesthetics and boundless exploration.
Beyond PHOSPHOR‘s headline series, a treasure trove of Viviane’s unseen archives unfolds. Among these, a remarkable set of photographs stands out—Viviane’s self-portraits, a profound act of self-reclamation from her modelling past. These images exude a powerful assertion of self-ownership, a testament to her unwavering claim of herself, by herself.
Viviane’s mastery in orchestrating vibrant hues and directing creatively charged photographic performances sparks a lingering curiosity – a quest for the ‘why’ behind the evocative forms taking shape. Her art transcends earthly boundaries, pulsating with a sense of both terrestrial and otherworldly aesthetics.
Viviane Sassen — PHOSPHOR: Art & Fashion 1990 – 2023 is on view at MEP, Paris until 11th February 2024.
By Ron Lastima