Fashion photographer Thomas Zanon-Larcher is best known for his collaborations with Yohji Yamamoto and Alexander McQueen, for his compelling backstage scenes and glossy ad campaigns. But his collaborations with Jules Wright, director of London's Wapping Project galleries, share more with fine art and cinema than fashion.
His first solo exhibition, 'Falling: A Part', on until 16 March at The Wapping Project Bankside, was six years in the making. For the 15 photographs here, Zanon-Larcher worked much like an auteur, crafting narratives in a string of European locations: Oslo, Vienna, London, Paris. He worked for days in a single spot with a single model, building up her character, then setting her free and recording her movements.
Out of hundreds of frames, Zanon-Larcher chose to display one 'gestus', the defining, mystifying snapshot - mystifying because he never reveals the narrative, the history or the tension he and his model have conceived. The mood varies from dark to darker, though we never know why. The interpretation is up to the viewer.
Zanon-Larcher's characters are not your average models. Nicolle Meyer, for instance, a former muse of Guy Bourdin, was 50 when the artist shot her at London's Smithfield Market in 2009, 'a woman not a girl'. 'The model search was like auditioning actors,' he says. 'They needed to be able to imagine and understand emotional content. And they need to know they won't always look so beautiful.'
Nicolle's scenes were shot in black and white, but most others are punctuated with hits of red - in a coat, a skirt, a book on a shelf. Zanon-Larcher's work has often been splashed with red as a complement to the darkness he seems to cultivate. 'It connects to black,' he says, admitting to a certain fixation with it.
'Francis Bacon used different reds in his work and he became obsessive about it,' he says. In 'Falling: A Part' red becomes as fascinating as the narrative itself, and not always as it seems.
'It never comes out as it exists in your head. It can make you crazy.'