Paul Kooiker FASHION

Press Release | Amsterdam, 3 November 2022

Foam is proud to present the exhibition of Dutch artist Paul Kooiker. “Fashion” is a concept that represents what is trending at the moment. Kooiker’s fashion photography, on the other hand, is characterised by its timelessness. The artist portrays the biggest fashion brands and today’s most famous faces, but transports them to a world of its own. Disconnected from time and place, his surreal images feel like film stills with stories we can only guess.

The practice of Paul Kooiker is characterised by a conceptual and experimental approach to photography. In his studio in Amsterdam, Kooiker uses the simplest means such as cardboard, dust and smoke, to create mysterious images that can hardly be unravelled. His style refers extensively to the history of photography and artistic movements such as surrealism, yet at the same time his images are unmistakeably idiosyncratic.

It is for this reason that he is currently a much sought-after photographer in the world of fashion and beauty. For the past five years he has created works on the boundary between commerce and art, with the division between his fashion photography and autonomous works almost too fine to distinguish. With his fashion commissions Kooiker breaks free from the dominant beauty paradigms in a seemingly effortless way. He creates an unmanageable kind of beauty that is not superficial, but almost Freudian in the way it plays on dark desires, fetishisms and subconscious dreams. Furthermore, his photography transcends classic gender roles: his models adopt unusual poses and their faces are often left out of frame, obscuring their identity. At times, it is not even clear whether the subject is human, or a doll. In order to capture the extravagance of luxury objects, Kooiker magnifies its means of presentation, like for example mannequins and displays, to such a degree that it is ultimately our desire itself that is captured by his camera.

All works in the exhibition are created with an iPhone. At a time when everyone photographs with their smartphone, Kooiker uses precisely this tool to create a parallel world that is apparently detached from it and that cannot be copied. His exhibition, FASHION, brings together a large variety of images from his fashion commissions to create an encompassing installation that works much like a hall of mirrors: it freezes the breakneck speed of the fashion industry and reveals the absurdity of human vanity and desire.

Mannequin with fur coat

Untitled, 2021 © Paul Kooiker.

Woman laughing

Untitled, 2022 © Paul Kooiker.

Hairy chest

Untitled, 2020 © Paul Kooiker.

Woman sitting on a stool

Untitled, 2019 © Paul Kooiker.

About the artist

Paul Kooiker (born 1964, Rotterdam) studied at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague and the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam (1990-1992). Kooiker was awarded the Prix-de-Rome Photography in 1996 and the A. Roland Holst Award for his oeuvre in 2009. Foam previously hosted a solo exhibition of his autonomous work in 2006, under the title Paradise Twenty-One. Kooiker’s works have been displayed in countless solo and group exhibitions in the Netherlands and abroad, including Museum Folkwang, Essen (2021/22, DE); Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar (2020, NL); Centraal Museum, Utrecht (2020, NL); FOMU Fotomuseum, Antwerp (2018, BE); Fotomuseum Den Haag (2014, NL); and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2009, NL). Furthermore, his works can be found in a great many international collections, both public and private. Paul Kooiker is represented by tegenboschvanvreden (NL) and Galerie Zink (DE).

FASHION, by Paul Kooiker can be seen from 8 December 2022 – 12 February 2023 at Foam.

Keizersgracht 609 
1017 DS Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel. + 31 (0)20 5516500

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With special thanks to tegenboschvanvreden , Galerie Zink and HALBE-Rahmen.

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