A contradiction exists at the heart of Thierry Van Biesen’s fashion photography.
His remarkable use of light, motion and vivid, shocking colour was hewn out of darkness and violence. Van Biesen, from Beirut, grew up during the Lebanese civil war. He dodged bombs and bullets, but his photographic essays sparkle with possibility and renewal.
As a result, a dark humour permeates Van Biesen’s work and, in all his stories, there is a twist, moral and visual, whether the clothes of the past are too big to fill or that gracefully dressed women run like naughty children on the beach. In his photographs, art monkeys life.
Thierry currently lives between Lebanon, France and the United States.
Q. Does (do you think) using the theme of violence in your photographs soothe the negative emotions related to the Lebanese war or the opposite – it prevents you from letting go?
A. It did prevent me from letting go, which was the main defense mechanisms acquired as a child during the war. It is that same mechanism that, by deforming reality to make it more acceptable, built my style that is definitely characterized by a departure from reality.
Q. Does good coexist with evil in your war photographs? How? The message?
A. Good and bad, in a war, depend widely on which side you’re standing. For me, it was dreams that replaced reality, and that only depended on where my eyes were looking, not where I was standing.
Q. What influences your current work more – your past or your present? Good or evil?
A. My past brought me to this present. And the present, seen through the filter that I bring with me from my past, inspires me to create new images. I try to tend more towards Good, and I believe it exists, as well as Evil. The tension between Good and Evil, that exist in everything, fuels passions that nurture art.
A. Do you get inspiration from your dreams?
B. Daydreams, principally. I look at something and it scratches open an envelope full of images that I draw on paper before going on to throwing them at millions of pixels.
Q. What mood inspires your work the most?
A. Different moods inspire it differently, but I do love it when a dark mood gets infiltrated by a sparkle of optimism to produce a story.
Q. What’s the last vivid emotion/experience living in London gave you?
A. The death of my wife Marianne, who was also the stylist with whom I worked for 12 years
Q. Where else in the world would you like to live and why?
A. Tokyo maybe, my only visit there left me many good memories and I’ve never lived there, which is a good reason to try it.
Q. Book or Film?
Q. What are you reading at the moment? What was the last movie that took your breath away?
A. Krishnamurti’s “De l’Amour et de la Solitude” . Miyazaki’s Spirited Away
Q. Do you prefer working on mornings or nights? Why?
A. No preference, but I’m definitely not an early riser!
Q. What are you working on at the moment?
A. Two stories for fashion magazines, one a bout the Bearable Lightness of Being, and the other about Perspectives, a project with dancers on relationships, and a few short movies.
Q. What do you hope to find/experience through your involvement in Pelime?
A. Pelime should allow me to share my expertise with other members, maybe participate in their projects, and let others do the same for me.