This month, we highlight artist duo Pierre & Gilles. Partners in life and art, the couple work together to produce their highly distinctive, highly stylised, hand-painted photographs and the results are truly unique. Blurring the line of real and surreal, Pierre handles the photography before Gilles uses his paint brush to transform their images into fantastical, artificial worlds. From mythical characters, celebrities, soldiers, sailors, porn-stars, even refuse collectors; everyone is glorified in their pop-culture inspired creations. Sordid and beautiful, their portraits have a regal quality to them, following a traditional form more associated with aristocracy than their highly sexualised muses.
Still producing breath-taking images from their home studio in Pré-St. Gervais, near the periphery of Paris, their process is thorough; including building the set for each piece, an array of ornaments and other objects one would moreover see in a theatre. Pierre specifically prepares the lighting for their subject beforehand, and the frame is made specifically afterwards as well. Everything is considered. In an age of Photoshop, their insistence on completing everything by hand is a breath of fresh air and testament to their integrity and skill. Their works are instant recognisable and have been influential in all creative realms.
The couple met in 1976 at a Kenzo party in Paris and have been together ever since. Slowly they combined their skills until they eventual signed their work Pierre & Gilles, with 2016 marking 40 years of partnership – fortunately there’s no signs of them putting down the camera, and brush, just yet!
Scroll through the above to see some of their work.