Head to Alon Zakaim Fine Art, in London to catch the sublime photography exhibition by London-based, Iranian artist Maryam Eisler. With a suggestive title, one could only imagine what will unfold within the walls of the two storey gallery.
Most of the ginormous black and white images were shot at the infamous Nord-Pinus Hotel in Arles, which has a rich reputation for attracting creative minds and great thinkers. Situated in the heart of the city, the hotel was once owned by a cabaret dancer and a tightrope- walking clown, and in its heyday, was the haunt of bullfighters, writers and artists including Picasso, Cocteau, Churchill, Hemingway and Van Gogh.
The glamour has faded over time, but the hotel still oozes a sense of mystery, which is reinforced in the eclectic mixture of furnishings that celebrate its vibrant history and bohemian past. Eisler celebrates the female form by contrasting her models (and a male matador) in various states of undress and indulgence; but it is more than voyeuristic. These strong characters own their passion, and akin to Helmut Newton’s iconic 1973 Vogue shoot with Charlotte Rampling, which took place at the hotel, Eisler has chosen to explore the subject of ‘La Femme’ in the Now.
The 27 images were shot between lockdowns in 2021, and celebrate the masculine and feminine tensions that the city has seen and lived over centuries. The resulting series embodies women who are strong and seductive yet unattainable; projecting an idea of uncompromising femininity, with models lounging in boudoirs, against curling ironwork and impressive door frames in complete control.
One particular image that struck me was the unapologetic feast of shellfish, which celebrates women’s power over their bodies, and what they can eat; whilst three pictures reference the famous bullfighter, Luis Miguel Dominguín, who used to greet his adoring crowds from the balcony. However Eisler has turned that male dominated tradition on its head by including women as temptresses, which celebrates the dominance of the female form.
Catch the exhibition by Maryam Eisler at Alon Zakaim Fine Art until 24th November.
Alon Zakaim Fine Art
27 Cork Street