Interview with Gilles Bensimon

BATD ON Jan 07, 2013 AT 1:09 pm

Renowned for his 20 year tenure as fashion photographer for Elle magazine, Gilles Bensimon is showing photography of an altogether less sartorial style in his latest exhibition in London’s Hamiltons Gallery. Entitled Watercolour, the exhibition showcases Bensimon’s glossy images of saturated pops of colour from freshly cut flowers submerged underwear.

Gilles Bensimon

Talking to WWD, Bensimon revealed that his latest exhibition has made him a little nervous,

“I was very anxious for this, I must say. “I was anxious because when you’re a fashion photographer and you do something like this, you can be perceived as someone who wants to become an artist, which I am very uncomfortable with,” Bensimon says.

“I grew up in the art world. My mom was a painter, my father was in the art business so, for me, an artist is not simply one who has passion for museums and couture.”

Explaining the origins behind this particular exhibit, Bensimon says, ”I’ve always been obsessed with water, even in the fashion pictures I’ve done. I swim every day. I spend so much time in the water, some days four or five hours. And I’ve also always been passionate for flowers. I love gardens. So the combination just seemed natural for me, but I didn’t think of it until I went to Malaysia. I was in this very remote part. It took me three planes and a bus to get there. It’s tropical and it was raining so much. I realized all the flowers there were in this cycle; everything dying was regrowing. Even when we had one flower dying, we had another one born there in the same place.
“I wanted to call the exhibition “Marie Antoinette” because you chop off the head of something so beautiful. I realized the flower is something very tragic. When you cut them, they’re dead. But when you put them in water, they start to come alive again. They have a rebirth.

Watercolour exhibition by Gilles Bensimon

The flowers I picked myself. That’s why I spent so much time shooting them because I had to try different flowers, and I realized some flowers act differently in the water. With some, you need to put them in then leave them outside the water for a few days to let their color fade. It took two or three days to get the effect I wanted. The lighting also had to be perfect. I would start working very early, as soon as the sun was out, and shoot all day until the sun goes down. It was a very taxing process. I destroyed six cameras in one week because of the water.”

‘Watercolour’ by Gilles Bensimon is on until 18th January at Hamiltons Gallery, 13 Carlos Place  London, Greater London W1K 2EU

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