Model, photographer, entrepreneur: no matter what you call him, Brent Chua is an artist at heart. We tracked down our talented (albeit elusive) friend to see what he’s been up to.
two + seven: After our last interview with you at Table 12, your photography seemed to take precedent over your modeling career. What projects have you been working on since the last time we saw you?
Brent Chua: I’ve been shooting photographs like a madman and it makes me incredibly happy, what can I say? It keeps me moving, like a fire begging to burn out but never burning out. Not yet.
2+7: What drove you to the other side of the camera?
BC: The need to see things. Isn’t it great to be able to see things? After a while you get the feeling you just want to create your own stuff. And modeling, I mean, it is what it is. So I suppose what drove me was a strong desire to see things in a different way.
2+7: With a background in modeling, do you feel like more you are more forgiving and patient than other photographers?
BC: I would hope so! No, but, yes it does seem that way. At least that’s what I’ve been told. I fancy myself someone quite easy to work with but surely there must be one or two who would not think so. But in general, I really do find the chemistry. Chemistry is something really important. Of course it doesn’t have to exist, for most people, but for me, it makes the time spent worth it.
2+7: What do you look for in your models?
BC: I like when someone can be present yet also when someone can have an imagination. Patience is always great. A virtue, they say. Usually if we are both patient actually it seems to go by much faster. Though I can’t stand when someone isn’t willing to work. I hate laziness. Unless I ask you to be.
2+7: If there was something about the fashion industry that you could change, what would it be?
BC: It is difficult when everything, in anything- from fashion to art to cinema, all seems to reflect our generation now. It all moves a bit too fast, especially fashion, and it would be nice if some things could just be absorbed.
2+7: Why are you always MIA?
BC: Because of the fire [passion]! I can’t help it really.
2+7: Finally, have you taken a shower yet?
BC: Actually, no. But that’s because the model I shot today arrived only ten minutes after I woke up. But I will shower now, don’t worry.
Credits: All photos were taken by Brent Chua. Special thanks to Dmitry Brylev & VNY Model Management, Taylor Edward Freeman and Elena.
From the sidewalk to the catwalk, CATWALK/SIDEWALK is the exhibit of the season! Sponsored by Wix.com in the Wix Lounge until May 3rd, this fashion photography collective features the work of photographers Liam Alexander and Galo Delgado in a presentation that compares and contrasts runway and street style fashion. two+seven caught up with the talented photogs in an exclusive interview:
LA: Well, we all know that runway style historically trickles down into street style. But now, in the world that we live in, in 2013 there is so much more of a dialogue between the two—the distance between the runway and the street has been seriously diminished by the interconnectivity of the world. While there are still a few autonomous designers handing down style from an ivory tower, in most cases, the fashion you see in the shows comes right from the streets. We live in an interesting time where we are crowd sourcing everything and the masses decide what’s good. It’s the same with fashion, so it really blurs the lines between street and runway.
Liam, what is it about friend & collaborator Galo Delgado’s streetstyle moments—or what he thought about your industry shots)—that made you think “wow, these would really compliment one another?”
LA: It actually came from Wix giving us so much freedom after inviting us to have the show. They basically said “hey guys do whatever you want” and it was serendipitous that two of our strengths complimented each other in such a relevant way (street style/ runway style) You know, Galo and I work together all the time, and for many years, so I think both of our styles and techniques are a lot of times informed by each other anyway. We had been wanting to do something together again, since our photobooth event last summer and Wx wanted a fashion themed show for February. So it was perfect timing, and the idea was born from work that we both love to do, so it was just great.
Galo, What is it about friend & collaborator Liam Alexander’s runway shots that made you think “wow, these would really compliment each other?”
GD: Well, it was pretty simple. Ashley Williams approached me on putting something together at the Wix Lounge for NYFW. Being that Liam had a strong focus in fashion, I had to approach him with this opportunity, to see if he was interested in coming onboard. I knew he had a ridiculous body of work. Homeboy had been shooting runway for years; it just made sense to me, for him to be involved. We had a five minute discussion over the phone and BOOM, the idea of CWSW was born. Strangely enough, its kinda always been our process when working together. We start out with hearing each others ideas and opinions, then take it to the next level. We spent countless hours refining this show. Liam, cover your ears…There isn’t a person out there that I enjoy working with more.
When preparing for this exhibition, what was the image selection process like? Are there specific moments/feelings that you look for in a shot?
LA: We both worked so intensely and closely together on this show that the body of work kind of merged into one. Personally I had a tremendous body of work from fashion weeks from shooting for so many seasons, and I wanted to show stuff that people hadn’t seen before that was a bit more fine arty than editorial. I cut it down to about 200 photos, and then I kind of just dumped them on Galo. It was really refreshing to get another set of eyes on the body of work. It was interesting to see what he liked compared to what I liked—it was super collaborative. In the end what was or wasn’t in the show was determined not by who was famous or what designers were featured, but by what images worked together visually and compositionally and how the pieces related to each other, complimented each other, or spoke to each other. We wanted to present a show that was above all else visually and conceptually engaging.
GD: 200? You dumped on like 300+ on me! And of course they were all pretty sick- not to mention super artistic. In my head I was like “Fuck, I got less than 25 days to complement this” I was a little freaked out. His subjects were all flawless runway models with full make-up and hair, dressed in the latest fashions. I decided to look at it from the other direction. I wanted to make sure all of my subjects were not models. No pulled clothing or hair and make-up. With the help of friends, and friends of friends I persuaded 21 subjects to participate. It was during the coldest weeks in January, and it wasn’t easy. However, the subjects fell in love with the idea and toughed it out. I wanted it to be as realistic as possible. Real people, as themselves on the sidewalks of New York. Then came the selection process—we wanted to focus on the juxtaposition. Originally we agreed doing eight pairings each. That idea went out the window pretty fast. We couldn’t ignore the fact of how great many of the photographs worked with each other. The show kept growing, we ran out of wall space at the Wix Lounge. Ashley stepped in and helped us with the final decision process. We ended up with 14 pieces each for a total of 28.
As an artist and photographer, what does all this fashion business mean to you?
LA: Oh Jesus… What does all this fashion business mean… I don’t even know. I don’t know anything about fashion. I just like taking pretty pictures. I am lucky and happy that I have beautiful subjects to photograph, but beyond that, really I could care less. That’s probably why everyone in fashion hates me, everyone is on an ego trip about people and stuff that won’t be relevant in two years, and its all about being really up everyone’s ass and I’m not really interested in that. I do allot more than fashion; I work in film, and make fine art collages. I find a lot of rich and wonderful ways to be creative across a lot of platforms and at the end of the day, fashion doesn’t play a tremendous role in my life. I just shop at thrift stores and buy sweaters for $4 – Although, now, I’m gonna have to start wearing Gucci again or something because now the thrift store thing is “en vogue” (thanks Makelmore) so instead of just getting a bargain, now I’m “one of those guys” haha…ugh.
GA: Ha! Liam that was pretty funny, I got plenty of Gucci that should fit you, just let me know when your ready make the transition. Aside from the fact that I like to dress nice, the fashion business doesn’t mean a whole lot to me these days. However, I do have a history with it. Let’s just say I got a thing for models, designers and the occasional publicist.
Can we look forward to another Catwalk/Sidewalk exhibition for Spring 2013 fashion week?
LA: I don’t think so. I think you can certainly look forward to something new and exciting from both me and Galo, and we will definitely be collaborating continuously. I’ll have a private salon of some of my fine art work in like a month, and I for one really look forward to collaborating with Galo again—it was one of the greatest joys of my life to make a show with one of my best friends! We’ll see what we come up with next, stay tuned!
GD: Dare I say “ditto” without all of you thinking that I’m making a Ghost reference? (Smile)
Catch the exhibit at the Wix Lounge, 10 West 18th Street until May 3rd! These are the last weeks of the show. The show will be open to the public from 9-5 and Galo and Liam are doing private showings in the final week of the exhibition!
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Liam has been photographing the inner workings of New York Fashion Week for various media publications and private clients for over 12 seasons. His backstage photographs have been featured in magazines, editorial features, and gallery shows; including his first solo exhibition “Behind the Curtain” at Envoy Enterprises Gallery in the Lower East Side. Liam’s fine art and photography have been shown throughout the United States, and internationally as a part of the second annual Toolkit Festival in Venice, Italy.
Award winning photographer and New York original Galo Delgado has photographed fashion, portraiture, and commercial work for over 10 years. As a native Manhattanite, he was always inspired by the visually charged chaos that is New York City. Galo became deeply engaged in capturing that chaos and beauty in his street photography, which today remains his true passion. His style and composition capture a unique image of NYC and its eclectic population. Galo’s work has graced the cover of a New York City paper, several exhibitions, and is privately collected across the globe.
“Galo Delgado and Liam Alexander, friends and collaborators for over 10 years, proudly present two distinct visions of fashion in New York City. Juxtaposing the runways of New York Fashion Week with the New York streets, these photographers have created a compelling series of work that encompasses New York fashion from the catwalk to the sidewalk.”
All event images by: Lexi Namer
Curator, Ashley GallmanWilliams
Liam Alexander: Website, Facebook + Twitter
Galo Delgado: Website, Facebook + Twitter
From the sidewalk to the catwalk, CATWALK/SIDEWALK is the exhibit of the season! The exhibition is sponsored by Wix.com and designed by fashion photographers Liam Alexander and Galo Delago. Starting tomorrow the exhibit opens with a private reception that you must RSVP to attend (RSVP@catwalk-sidewalk.com)! However if you can’t make it tomorrow – it will be going on February 5th thru March 1st 2013!
As two + seven’s man behind the scenes, photographer Liam Alexander is primed and ready for Fashion Week. With exclusive coverage, Liam gives us a glimpse into the glamorous (and not-so-glamorous) world of backstage shows. To kick-start the week’s festivities, Liam presents a black and white collection of past fashion week photos. Stay tuned for more candid shots, street style, and more: only on two+seven!
Want more of Liam Alexander?
Naked. A completely natural, yet inexplicably feared state of being. We are born and bred sans clothes, yet live within a culture that subdues and censors. We are mortified and shocked by the exposure of the anatomy that we all possess. Photographer Zach Hyman is no stranger to this paradox, and bases his artwork on the very feeling it evokes. Drawing the attention of art critics, media, and mere observers, Hyman showcases the natural human body in all of its glory: in the middle of a busy street, on a deserted mountain top, and even on a crowded New York City subway car. “I think it’s the idea that underneath all of the insecurities and knowledge we wall up in front of us, all the fashion and objects we use to build our identities, there is the same composition of humanity,” he says, referencing the appeal of his subject matter. In a revealing interview, Zach Hyman talks to two + seven about his past, his work, and what it really means to take it all off.
Photo: Israel 2010
two + seven: You went to school for theater arts and left to pursue photography. Ever think of going back?
Zach Hyman: I had been interested in photography since a very early age. My grandfather and uncle were huge hobbyists and I considered them very interesting people and still do. I think I got my first camera when I was around 8 or so. It was one of those long Kodak cameras with the wide format double spool film. You could shoot three sizes: 35mm to Panoramic. I left it at a wedding in Carmel. I was crushed.
But to answer the question, no. I never think of going back. I think of it as more of a hiatus, as I studied photography throughout high school and for some reason decided to go the acting route. I have recurring dreams in which I am about to go on stage and have no idea what play I’m in, or have completely forgotten all my lines, but that’s about it. I don’t like to be told what to do, and during the conservatory theater training there was a lot of that. I realized that if I were going to be an actor I would have to deal with not getting tattoos, cutting or not cutting my hair; just having someone else dictate my appearance and actions on a regular basis didn’t appeal to me. I do, however, keep finding the parts of performance art that I do enjoy showing up in my photos and artwork.
‘El Parque’ Taken in Parque de Mexico, Mexico City. A man in the iconic crucifixion pose is doused in the colors of his native flag. 2011
2+7: You must get this question a lot: why naked people?
ZH: The nude works are representative of my past and present concerns and ideas. My aim at the start was to symbolically scream out in a moment of silence by placing the nude form in a public setting. Although I continue to work with nude figures, my work has moved into a realm containing more specificity pertaining to relevant worldly issues as well as personal struggles, victories, and dreams. My continual work with nudes, both portraiture and self portraiture, is derived from the desire to promote a more open, honest, and vulnerable society through imagery.
Many of us are taught from a very early age to bottle up our emotions and hide away our thoughts unless they align with a certain school. I feel that by disrobing we can metaphorically shed the preconceived thoughts and ingrained ideas that have been fed to us over the years, while at the same time become more readily available to receive new and important insights as to who we are as a world society and to the relevance of our existence. When these moments are photographed the energy and concept of the image are more easily received by the viewer. Because the nude form is considered to be taboo, the desire to continue on looking and interpreting for one’s self is simply human nature.
After finding this means of transmission I began to delve into the experimentation process of abstractly representing the multiple crises apparent in the world as well as within myself. While still retaining cohesiveness with the previous work, I explored ideas such as war, greed, depletion of resources, the artists struggle etc. Interestingly enough, the subjects are beginning to become less and less visible underneath the other mediums. Using materials or methods to change the shape or color of these figures have become an interesting way to relay the concepts that are of most importance to me as an artist and world citizen.
Studio 2012 – Work in Progress
2+7: How do you avoid the police? Any close calls?
ZH: Avoiding the police was something more relevant in the beginning, but I would ask friends to be look outs and just find the right moment to give the go… 15 to 30 seconds tops. There was a shoot planned at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We went for it and the model (KC Neill) was arrested, charged with indecent exposure, endangering the welfare of children, and lewd conduct. All of the charges were dropped. I have close calls all the time. It seemed that a cop car or police unit would roll or walk by very soon before or after almost every shoot. The scariest times seem to be when I’m out of the country. There were a few times in Israel, India, and Mexico when I felt very much out of my comfort zone, especially when I was the one posing.
‘Untitled’ After experiencing a week in northern India, a self portrait was taken in a small town in Phalodi, Jodhpur. 2011
2+7: Would you (or have you) ever posed nude yourself?
ZH: After my first Series of nudes I began to pose in my photos, it moved to collaborative work, and has now taken on a life of it’s own. A majority of my work is now based on nude and implied nude self portraiture.
2+7: On a deeper level, what is about the human body that inspires you to create art?
ZH: I think it’s the idea that underneath all of the insecurities and knowledge we wall up in front of us, all the fashion and objects we use to build our identities, there is the same composition of humanity…and when we look past all of those walls and barriers we come to a whole new set of problems concerns and ideas that are ACTUALLY relevant. The body interests me because it is always so covered up. Not just in clothing, but in its seeming knowledge of self. I believe in the “don’t know” mind. When you don’t know there are infinite possibilities. When you know everything your scope is narrowed and leaves you stranded.
‘Chinatown‘ The first shot taken in the “Decent Exposures” series. 2009
2+7: Tell us about your upcoming exhibitions/body of work. What can we look forward to?
ZH: I’ve recently been working on some large scale installation/sculptural pieces. Some are photographed and some are the installations and sculptures themselves, but all rely on some sort of self representation. The new work is all about process; both artistic and humanistic. I plan on finalizing all concepts and work by the end of the year and finding a home for it in early 2013.
Zach’s studio space, East Williamsburg
2+7: When you’re not shooting on city streets, where do you set up space?
ZH: I have a studio space in East Williamsburg.
To rent Zach’s studio space for photoshoots, yoga, events etc., click here
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Taylor Edward Freeman is a model with more than meets the eye. As an artist, photographer, and writer, he can certainly tell us a thing or two about documenting the beauty of life. We caught up with the talented Taylor on a Saturday afternoon, chatting about everything from Japan and how the simple things in life can be the most fascinating and exhilarating.
two + seven: Tell us about yourself.
Taylor Edward Freeman: I’m from Queens. I’m 21. The “about yourself” is such a hard question. You never know what you are about to say. I like to drink coffee, sit in cafes, sit on benches, watch people, meet people and piece little psychological things together about them. I’m very observant.
2+7: How did you end up modeling?
TEF: I don’t do so much modeling nowadays but I started when I was 16 when this lady found me on the streets. I went around Asia last year for United Arrows, Diesel. I did some stuff for Costume National, I-D Magazine, which as fun. In the states I did some stuff for Uniqlo.
2+7: Tell us about your trip to Japan.
TEF: Japan is a really interesting place to document. There’s so much to see and everything is really different. Even the first few days of being there, I had this sensation of being somewhere else. Everything was contradictory and bizarre. It’s a great place to document and meet people. As a foreigner, it feels very weird because you’re immersed in their culture and at the same time you are isolated from them. It’s very strange because everyone is so polite and kind and they show you so much but at the same time they are kind of far away from you and reserved. You’re immersed yet isolated, which is why some people feel so lonely over there. Luckily, when I went there I was surrounded by many interesting people and I didn’t feel particularly lonely at all but I still notice it. I caught some glimpses of loneliness when I’m by myself. When I was in Japan, I bought a bicycle and I would ride it late at night and I would feel this strange mystery about Tokyo and the Japanese. There was some underlying feeling at night that feels supernatural and I couldn’t figure out.
2+7: You’re an artist too. What characteristic plays a role in making your art?
TEF: Being observant plays a huge role. Sometimes I’m more spontaneous and sometimes my brain works in a technical way. I like to always be spontaneous because you hold more value on it if it’s less planned and constructed but more fluid.
2+7: What motivates you to take photographs?
TEF: At the end of the day, all I really want is to document moments because memories are so fleeting. Even for the most organized shoots if you will, it’s about remembering. You always want to look back at a photo and reference it to see how you were feeling that day or how you’re feeling in general or during that time period. It is amazing to have something to look at that can reawaken a specific moment in your life. Right now, I’m thinking of a specific photo – it was from a planned shoot but the way that I took the photo was very spontaneous. Just thinking back about that photo reminds me of that day and this image in my head starts to form. I start remembering who I was with that day, that I had a mozzarella sandwich, my summer crush and what I did later that day. For me, I’m always forgetting things and having all these photographs helps me remember and keep track of life.
2+7: How many photos do you take everyday?
TEF: I take my camera with me everyday but I have to be in a mood. I would take some photos using my camera phone if I don’t think the images are worthy of getting printed. I’d like to be as spontaneous and document as much but I think about how interesting the subjects are to me- like a transsexual rave party or a man reading his newspaper on the bench or this old woman throwing bread for the birds. One day, I stepped out for a cigarette and I saw this really old woman hunched with two canes and she pulls out this bag with bread for the birds and she threw it out and the birds started to come towards as if they were waiting for her the whole day. I noticed that there was this old tree above this old woman and the juxtaposition was so interesting to see.
2+7: Did you have a camera at that time?
TEF: No, I didn’t. I would have probably grabbed it but you know that was such a special moment and taking a photograph would have ruined it. It’s a little difficult differentiating living in the moment and documenting the moment.
2+7: Tell us about your drawings and collages. How are they different from your photographs?
TEF: With drawing and painting it’s more mental and internal. When I draw this lady- looking mischievous and used up- she just comes out of my head. It’s very natural.
2+7: Tell us about your design for Marc Jacob’s Marc for Marc Jacob’s shirts
TEF: I came back from Japan and I was going to this theatre school and I was extremely bored then I found myself drawing “The Lady.” I would throw paint and start drawing with markers and buying more t-shirts and drawing more. I had friends who lived with me for a bit. One of them works at Marc Jacobs in the design department. He came to work wearing my shirt and her boss saw it and asked if I could make some. I made five designs and one of them he bought as a display and then the other designs they used for the t-shirts.
You can purchase Taylor’s t-shirt design here
See some of his works on two + seven here