July 7, 2011
Modern-Day Lotus-Eaters at Lowe Gallery
International fashion photographer Greg Lotus brings his haunting beauty to Bill Lowe Gallery for its 22nd Anniversary Bash!
By Nancy Staab
- All Photos by Greg Lotus
Read on for our exclusive interview with this Italian Vogue fashion phenom and details of his opening and exhibit.
In Greek mythology such as Homer’s Odyssey, the lotus-eaters are mariners who, upon stumbling upon a beautiful but narcotic plant, become dreamy and aloof and lose their taste for the struggles of real life or their desire to return home. Victorian poet Alfred Lord Tennyson also took up the subject of lotus-eaters in his poem of that name, but now the lotus-eaters are “mild-eyed melancholy” sirens of beauty. Lotus-eating became symbolic of a desire for escape: whether by sleep and dreaming, drugs, beauty or, lastly, art.
At Lowe Gallery this Friday July 8, lotus-eating takes the form of feasting on art and beauty with gorgeous high-fashion and conceptual images by international photographer Greg Lotus. Drink in the dreamy and sometimes dark beauty of his large format, cover-worthy images of models immersed in water, made almost architectural within a stark stair-scape or overlaid with the shadows of a spoked wheel, or aping aristocratic Italian Renaissance paintings. This model-gorgeous, Miami-based shutterbug may have a started out on the other end of the lens, but soon graduated from catwalks to the camera. His very first meeting with legendary Italian Vogue editor Franca Sozzani landed him a beauty feature and since then, his images, which range from graphic to hauntingly cinematic, have graced magazine such as Vanity Fair, GQ, W and L’Uomo Vogue , as well as campaigns for Cartier, Neiman Marcus, Swarovski etc. Along the way he has snapped Penelope Cruz, Milla Jovovich, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Katy Perry and more. But Lotus’s first love is the beautiful female model, whose exaggerated artifice of makeup, hair, beauty, clothing or body is juxtaposed with the rugged savagery and sometimes humor (giraffes, elephants, oh my!) of nature itself.
Aspiration and Artifice: The Constructed Visage spans 20 year’s of image-making from Lotus, who travels the globe but splits his time between New York, Paris and Miami. His heady world of glamorous constructs is a far cry from his West Virginia boyhood, but perhaps this contrast holds the key to his alluring image. Lotus’ show recently debuted at the brand new 1st Dibs gallery space in New York City, curated by Vogue editor Charles Churchward. Lowe Gallery, Atlanta, is the second stop. It’s a fitting exhibit to mark the 22nd Anniversary of Lowe Gallery--known for dramatic, emotive and romantic images. Also on view an equally significant collection of works of sublime destruction by renowned American vernacular artist Thorton Dial.
Meet Lotus in person at Bill Lowe Gallery opening night for what’s sure to be a glittery bash! Opening June 8, 6-9PM, Bill Lowe Gallery, 1555 Peachtree Street in the Two Peachtree Pointe building, suite 100, wwwLoweGallery.com The exhibit will be on view throughout the month of July.
LUXECRUSH’S EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH PHOTOGRAPHER GREG LOTUS:
Tell me about your photographic technique and approach:
I like to place a lot of thought into an image and create a story. Some of the pieces in the show are actually from 10-15 page stories that were published for magazines, so there is a whole cinematic approach. If you look at my website www.greglotus.com you will see the entire stories.
I started out working with real negatives and contact sheets and then moved into the digital era. Working digitally gives you more speed for editing.
What was your first meeting with the editor of Italian Vogue like?
I was very nervous that day. Meeting the editor of Italian Vogue was like having a meeting with God! Franca Sozzani is so respected and has created the most visual Vogue in the market. She reviewed my portfolio but did not look at the whole book, only the first page, and then slid the portfolio back to me and I thought all my dreams had just been lost. Then she asked me to shoot a beauty story for her--the one with the red-haired women with hairless cats (see the images on Lotus’ website). This was my first story with Italian Vogue. It was the start of a now nine-year span.
And speaking of hairless cats and other interesting props (giraffes!!!), your photography is often very conceptual. How do you come up with these ideas or where do you get your inspiration from?
Like all stories, planning and more planning goes into my stories. The cat story for example came from several art pieces, the Da Vinci portrait of Guinevera de Benci for example, and the works of other sixteenth-century artists. Even the make up was inspired from that era. Very High Renaissance.
Your art is also very cinematic at times: any filmmakers who excite or inspire you?
Cinematic can come from every day experiences, not just the movies.
Do you have a favorite model, actor, or subject?
I have an attraction to red-head models.
What is the most outrageous shoot you ever did in terms of location, live props, moody models or other challenging situations?
LOL! Photographing family…..such high maintenance!
Your black-and-white shots with the classic sculptural shapes of the human body, striking shadow play and graphic lighting do make me think of Herb Ritts. Who are some of the photographers past or present whom you admire?
Herb Ritts is definitely an influence. A lot of photographers influence one another.
I read that you grew up in West Virginia so is there anything you can pinpoint as Southern in your artistic sensibility?
I grew up in a very rural environment, so nature was a huge influence for me--my roots I guess you could say. And country Southern food was a staple!
What do you like to do in your free time when you have it?
I like design and architecture. I’m reading design magazines endlessly on planes.
Where do you live and work now?
I travel constantly. I love my house in Miami--I built and designed it myself.
You travel the world for you job: any favorite places you love to visit?
Your life is so glamorous. What do you have next in your pipeline?
I’m off to Istanbul in August for work.
How did your recent NYC show with Michael Bruno of 1st Dibs fame and American Vogue’s Charles Churchward as curator come about?
We chose a newer venue for New York City, a new paradigm. My show was the first exhibition in the new 1st Dibs Gallery space at 200 and Lexington. This brought in a larger audience than just collectors--- also designers, decorators and fashion people.
How did we get so lucky to land an Atlanta show of your work?
I am excited about showing at Bill Lowe Gallery. Bill Lowe was referred to me by designer Michael Kirkland.
What is your dream photography commission?
As some one once said, I just like stealing beauty!