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Inez & Vinoodh : Hi-Lo Transformers


The Photo Vogue Festival, 4th edition, is going to open in a while, but “Hi-Lo Transformers” by Inez & Vinoodh, that is actual part and anticipation of the event, is already on at Palazzo Reale in Milan. The show, the first in a public institution in Italy, consists of a series of I&V’s iconic images transformed into large hand-painted billboards on stage in the Prince’s lavishly decorated rooms.

The authors aim to focus on creating content: indeed while relying on virtual and digital tools, Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin transform them into a ‘human hardware’ turning them into vessels for a moving emotional content. And their subjects change according to the change of feelings and emotions in contemporary society: Inez and Vinoodh’s art keeps up with the cultural and visual landscape, that evolve continuously.

The exhibition, curated by Francesco Bonami, shows that very sense of changing also through a kind of metamorphosis, from the photographic hi-tech shots to the final billboard-scale paintings (no doubt much more “analogue”). At the same time, I&V’s photographs are characterized by minimal editing, but the outcome is multifaceted and more complex as they take on their nature of paintings: every image is familiar and yet mysteriously different.

From the real to reality: this is the imaginary journey envisioned by the two artists, shying away the conventions of both photography and mainstream art. Besides, they focus on the deep interaction that is established with the viewer. To them, the viewer’s involvement goes beyond the act of looking and expands to reach the emotional layers of the images. This results in an interaction that involves multiple entities, all of them contributing at the very content of the final image. Indeed, we can recognize the subjet, but it’s not the same subject we thought we knew, owing to an oddity or an emotive discrepancy that makes familiar things seem exceptional.

Their images are created according to a number of American cliches, stressing or instead softening them and representing them in kind of a suspended time. Except for the obvious differences, the images by Inez & Vinoodh recall the aesthetics and the subtle irony of the works by Norman Rockwell. Merging painting and photography, the direct representation of reality as well as creative optical distorsions, they express their subjects in an absolutely stunning way, whether it concerns fashion series, portraits or still life. Inez and Vinoodh also propose some videos that chronicle their long and fascinating career and body of work as well a new project of theirs.

Inez and Vinoodh were inspired by the large scale billboards, assuming the streets as their public art space where their campaigns for various fashion brands are displayed. “Bringing this outdoor art inside the museum, at Palazzo Reale, is a dream come true”, the two artists say.

The ​Hand Painted works on show are done by Colossal Media, the global leader of hand painted outdoor advertising.

Photo Vogue Festival, in its 2019 edition, features an interesting program of events and initiatives. Indeed, besides the exhibition at Palazzo Reale, should be mentioned the ones that are going to be on at the industrial space Base Milano (since november 14 to november 17). 

Paola Sammartano

Paola Sammartano is a journalist, specialized in arts and photography, based in Milan.


Inez & Vinoodh Hi-Lo Transformers

From October 31 to November 13, 2019

Palazzo Reale

piazza del Duomo, 12

20122 Milano, Italy



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