In collaboration with Reflex Gallery, ZOO Studio and Mulholland International are proud to present the work of Paris-born Romanian photographer Irina Ionesco (1935). More than 100 unique vintage prints will be on show at the gallery starting February 20th, 2016. Reflex Gallery proudly stands as the new exhibition space for Irina Ionesco within the Benelux. This particular exhibition is a unique solo presentation of the artist’s work and will go along with the launch of a new published, high-end art book.
Both, the new exhibition and the book will be divided into three different themes: “Fafa, Muse”, “Mort de l’Art” and “Théâtre Érotique”. Dubbed “the ‘grande dame’ of photography erotica” by the Independent, Ionesco’s work is a tribute to femininity in all its meant theatrical excesses.
Ionesco, who lacked technical knowledge but admired highly skilled luminaries such as Cecil Beaton, and later Robert Mapplethorpe, achieved to turn this initial problem into an advantage. It allowed her to create her own visual language unburdened by conventions and mainly based on alternative modes of lighting (candles) and exposure (putting a 400 ASA film on 800 ASA). From her first experiments with the medium she also kept the habit of using a Nikon F camera, the same model she had received as a Christmas gift from her lover, Belgian COBRA artist Corneille, in 1964.
Ionesco’s models often look directly into the lens defiantly. The dolls they hold and the fetishistic accessories they wear work to heighten their nudity as they stand, sit or lay down. They seem to play roles in clichéd fantasies in which they become in turn children, goddesses and perhaps whores. Some of the props and dresses hint at exotic cultures whereas backgrounds might remind one of Victorian photography settings, and hairdos of Rossetti’s paintings. Alice in Wonderland meets Richard Avedon, Orientalist painting and Symbolism.
As French surrealist Andre Pieyre De Mandiargues once stated: “Irina Ionesco’s sexual world belongs to a place where there is no licence to touch. It is the world of dreams.”