Dutch photographer Ferry van der Nat, formerly known as Mr. Polaroid, has done it all. He’s been a chef, makeup artist to a touring drag queen show, made wigs for Victor & Rolf, and is a celebrated fashion editor, stylist and photographer. The word polymath doesn’t begin to describe the energy he has for life. Like Andy Warhol before him, it’s his intimate and provocative Polaroids of male muses, turned into a book Mr. published by MENDO, that define him as a true artist.
For the first time, some of the most iconic of these Polaroids, in original form, will be exhibited at The Ravestijn Gallery in Amsterdam from 17 February to 1 April 2017.
Before there was Instagram there was Polaroid. Artists that defined their eras, from Warhol and Hockney to Maplethorpe, used the medium to express their creativity and to provoke. For Warhol, it was the perfect vehicle for his obsesssion with celebrity. Long before the Kardshinan’s discovered hashtags, Warhol used his Polaroid Big Shot (the same camera beloved by Ferry) to snap the rich, famous and beautiful at their most raw. And even today, we still can’t get enough of these candid images. We want to be there with them sipping champagne and swinging from chandeliers with all the beautiful people. Fast forward decades and Polaroid’s aesthetic is more powerful than any app filter – it baths its subjects in an otherworldly glow.
Ferry’s Polaroids however, go beyond the mere aesthetic. They straddle the line between erotica and humour, abstract and intimate. Whether it’s a sweet little ribbon tied around a flacid cock or a close-up of pubic hair peeking out between some peachy cheeks, you feel the playful intimacy and you become part of the moment. According to Ferry, “Polaroids go beyond reality. And beyond the digital world we live in. They create a world that’s better than real life.”
He’s been taking instant camera photographs of men for years. Many, who he scouted, have made it to the major runways and fashion magazines around the world. In the upcoming show, Colby Keller, Ferry’s favourite porn star/artist will be featured, along with Mr. Danilo a dancer and another favourite. “I just like to keep things simple and clear. In my photography I am exploring the male form, and how society wants to view the male form. Over time what is considered masculine, or the acceptable form of masculinity, has shifted. I am very curious to see how this will develop in the future.”
Ferry’s curiosity, or unashamed voyeurism, makes for addictive viewing. But be warned, if you linger long enough you become part of the story.
A special edition of Hot Dave magazine by artist and art director Matt Ryals dedicated to the work of Ferry van der Nat will be presented at the opening. Hot Dave and van der Nat's monography 'Mr.' by Mendo are available at the gallery throughout the exihibition.