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MODERN EROS. Yves De Brabander

by Gene Ku Chien - Feb 2011


Why did you become a fashion photographer?

I don't think I ever consciously decided to start doing fashion photography. It's something that grew through the years following my own feeling... It took me a while meeting designers, to see clothing and fashion as two different things.

 It started to interest me because of the depth and concepts some designers use to create their work. Instead of a garment it became something, a whole story that can inspire me.

How did you start out? What was the first photograph you did?

As a child my father -who was an architect- would let me play with his collection of vintage cameras. I don't know if this is the reason I fell in love with photography, but I was alwaysstimulated creatively.

Does your father approve of what you do?

I'm sure he's proud that I decided to take a chance, and not choose to take the easy way...
He never did that neither, maybe that's the most important thing he ever taught me. Unfortunately he is no longer with us but I still feel hissupport in every project in take.

You are based in Antwerp, where was almost a signature of the 90's fashion. Does it mean something to you?

It was a very fun time in Antwerp, and I think probably not only in Antwerp.
I was still at school and remember the nightly guerilla parties by Ann Demeulemeester and Walter Van Beirendonck, there was a general atmosphere of extravaganza. But what makes it interesting is the fact that's been almost 20 years...

Actually it is more exiting to think that I'm living in a city where soon a whole new generation of artists will claim their place.

What is Made In Belgium according you?

A whole variety of things... In fashion you can't even try to compare Walter Van Beirendock with Raf Simons...

I guess that's the s ame for photographers or artists. Antwerp has a very rich history in arts and crafts since Rubens, but I wouldn't try to call it particular Belgian.

What is the value that you endorse in Antwerp?

I have no idea what the value's of Antwerp are, other than it's a compact city and you find everything close around you. The thing is: you can only know a city's character trough your own eyes or through the eyes of people around you.

Something that I notice around me is the dedication of people, giving themselves completely for their passion. I don't think it's something that is generally true for "Antwerp" but I would like to believe it is.

Can you name several new talents in the domains of photo, fashion, film, design, music...etc in Antwerp?

New fashion-designers I love: Cédric Jacquemyn, Daniel Andresen, Heaven Tanudiredja, Helena Lumelsky The problem in Antwerp is that you really have to prove yourself to break through the barricades of the ‘more established'.

There is a lot of talent in Antwerp but they are all given a difficult time.

Can you envisage a different tool taking pictures?

Actually every artwork is a picture, a representation of a reality seen trough somebody's eyes.


How do boys and girls impact your works?

As you can see in my work I prefer to work wit boys because it seems morenatural to me to tell a story trough boys, it just comes easier to me. I can tell a more interesting story through menswear fashion because I have a much more deeper "feeling" with it.

Are you interested in making images that are sexy?
To answer this question it's maybe important to explain what "sexy" is... To me sexy can be a synonym for poetic and sensual, breathtaking and attracting.
But the word sexy itself sounds nothing like this.

How do you look at the trend of very teenage sexual (more than sexy) appearance nowadays?
I don't really think it's something that is specific to "now", think of the photography and cinema of Larry Clark (USA), Pier Paolo Pasolini (IT), Derek Jarman (UK) ...
A lot of artists have always been attracted creatively to the young athlectic physique. The figure of Eros or even Bacchus in classic times, the ‘70s photography of Will McBride, ... Maybe it's an unconscious reaction on the returning

Do you believe in the idea of the muse?
Yes I do, but it's not necessarily a person to me, it's the few things in life, the few people or places that keep inspiring me and stimulating me creatively.
At least once a year I travel to Iceland, I keep on getting inspired by the overwhelming nature and scenery... maybe for me Iceland is my muse

Do you have the admiration for any artist? Did they influence your work?
I love the moving instant snaps of Nan Goldin (US) and Wolfgang Tillmans (GE), the pure uncensored stories of Larry Clark (US), the fantasies created in Luke Smalley's works. The No-sense mysteries of David Lynch (US)... And maybe I like to combine that often with the minimalism and aesthetics of the 30s-40s designs in furniture, architecture and minimalism of the modernists.

What else do you like to do apart from making photos?
I love, what we sometimes call "European cinema", the deep storytelling and mostly slow rhythm and offcourse the no-sense mysteries that David Lynch (US) can create.

On what are you currently working?
I'm currently working on the preparations of another art-series for an exhibition in my gallery in NYC later this year.

selfportrait in antwerp studio
Selfportrait in Antwerp studio. 2020
at work in antwerp studio
At work in Antwerp studio. 2020