Filled with food after a delicious lunch at Perupa’ti, we set off for a bit of culture.
Our next stop was a hop, skip and a jump over the border into Barranco (literally a 5 minute walk) to visit the MAC; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (Modern Art Museum).
We were here to see a photography exhibition by David LaChapelle, a photographer with a career spanning the decades from the 80’s until now. He is well known for his photography of celebrities and his work in numerous magazines, such as Vanity Fair, Vogue, GQ and Rolling Stone.
In the 1980’s he started showing his work in New York. Andy Warhol (pictured above) discovered him, liked his work and gave him a job at Interview magazine. The rest, as they say, is history. However, celebrities and fashion were not his only focus, because more recently he turned away from the commercial pieces and decided to only concentrate on the modern photographic art he had been producing.
This exhibition covers a wide range of his work through the years from 1984-2013.
One of the photographs we start with is this incredible image.
Just look at the colours that come through. Unbelievable.
I will point out now that it was difficult to capture these photographs at their best, as the frames were extremely reflective, but really this just means you have to see them up close and personal. Also, there will be nudity at some point, so if you’re not a fan, maybe scroll slowly so you don’t get a surprise!
As I said before his career started with magazines and celebrities, so here are just a sample of the people he shot.
These are just a few of the faces that appeared in his artwork.
LaChapelle made a series of photos entitled ‘Jesus is my Homeboy’ where he depicts Jesus in modern day America as opposed to the first century. Who would have featured in his life?
For example, here we see the Last Supper.
It is an extremely interesting concept that he has chosen to photograph, and the way he has used the light is just amazing, I also love the juxtaposition of Jesus in his first century clothing against that of the modern day dress and surroundings.
A lot of LaChapelle’s work is full of reflections on society and critiques of man.
For example, his series of bills in negative were done to reflect those made by Andy Warhol in the 60s, however instead of being Pop Art, these bills critique the celebration of wealth in our society.
(Did you notice that these are Peruvian Soles?)
One of my favourite parts of the exhibition was the series called ‘The House at the End of the World’.
It was shot for Italian Vogue and made reference to the problems that can come from climate change, but also our obsession with beauty. Even at the end of the world, these women are still focused on their appearance.
There is also a slight reference to Surrealism in this photography, with the juxtaposition of high fashion against a world torn apart. What could be more strange in a scene like this than a women fully dressed up in beautifully delicate clothing with not a mark upon her. She looks perfect amongst the debris of destroyed houses.
The Surrealism is reinforced again by the inclusion of the famous pillow dress from the catwalk of Viktor and Rolf.
Even when we have destroyed our own planet, we will still be obsessed by what we look like. Interesting thoughts, no?
These images do make for some incredible fashion photography and I can only imagine the impact they made on the pages of Vogue.
My other favourite collection is entitled ‘After the Deluge’.
But before I show you those pieces I need to show you the picture of the ‘Deluge’ itself.
This picture is inspired by Michelangelo’s ‘The Deluge’ painting in the Sistine Chapel, and shows again how obsessed our society is by wealth and decadence, but also destruction and decay. The picture depicts men, women and children in the midst of a terrible, destructive storm. The nudity references that in Michelangelo’s paintings, and something you will find in many historical paintings and statues. History is also juxtaposed with modern day with the use of ‘Caesars Palace’. This is somewhere we all know to exist in present day Las Vegas – also the home to the worship of opulence, money and power – but also a historical reference to the Romans.
Not everything is bad however, as you will notice that in the face of disaster humankind comes together and everyone helps each other. Maybe we’re not so bad after all.
(See Michelangelo’s painting here)
‘After the Deluge’ shows the aftermath of such a storm.
The Museum not only shows us the destructive nature of the storm but also we see again the art history referred to in the original ‘Deluge’ photography. The reflection in the water is somehow eerily beautiful.
I feel that this photograph, ‘The Cathedral’ is just incredible though, full of colour and light, even in the aftermath of such a disaster.
Just like the museum, there is something beautiful to see even with all that has happened before. Mankind has come together and the sun shines to show that the world is still there.
The end of the exhibition shows more of his recent works.
His series’ ‘Gas Stations’ and ‘Refineries’ are shown side by side. The press release from the exhibition of these two series in the Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York last year, best explain what these photographs represent.
“The sites depicted in LaChapelle’s LAND SCAPE represent the globally networked industrial infrastructure of oil production and distribution. The gas stations and refineries that populate iconic locations are staged as architectural avatars of a planet coping with the stresses of peak-oil — even as the buildings’ dazzling spectacle and retro-future aesthetic distracts from the dangers of their function. Both bodies of work use handcrafted scale models, constructed of cardboard and a vast array of recycled materials from egg cartons to tea canisters, hair curlers, and other by-products of our petroleum-based, disposability-obsessed culture.” –Shana Nys Dambrot, LAND SCAPE
There are so many other photographs on display here that I couldn’t possibly put them all on here, and I wouldn’t want to.
The exhibition runs until the 12th April so make sure you see it before its too late.
There is also a permanent collection at the MAC including the Peruvian artists:
Luis Arias Vera with the very Pop Art-y ‘Sobre Aéreo’
Fernando de Szyszlo with a couple of pieces including the pictured ‘Mar de Lurin’
Juan Javier Salazar with his political critique ‘Perú, pais del mañana’
The MAC is made up of 3 large, modern cuboid buildings. The Permanent Collection is housed in gallery 1 and the temporary exhibitions in galleries 2 and 3.
There is also a large water feature surrounding one side of the museum and is home to a couple of incredible sculptures. One which reminds me of a squid (you can see this in the first photo), and the other (above) is an installation of chicken heads from a previous exhibition by Cristina Planas. There is also a large green space to relax on, a cafe, and at the front entrance there is also a gift shop.
A visit to the MAC is very calm, tranquil and enjoyable experience. Even on a Saturday the galleries were not too busy, making the exhibitions easy to enjoy. The gardens were full of families enjoying the space and sunshine, as this part is free to enter without paying for the galleries themselves.
So if you find yourselves at a loose end this weekend, take a relaxing trip for some good food and browse some artwork, after all they are both good for the soul.
I leave you with a photo of Michael Jackson standing on the devil. You’re welcome.
MAC – Av. Grau 1511, Barranco
Entrance costs S/10 (discounts are available) and this includes all galleries. David LaChapelle is open until April 12th.
Bike parking is available!!!