The Photographic Alphabet: V is for Olivier Valsecchi
The work of French photographer Olivier Valsecchi blurs the lines between sculpture and nude photography. He visually intertwines the two genres, conceiving a more fluid body of work. In his photo series Klecksography, Valsecchi photographs the models as if they are human sculptures inspired by Rorschach’s inkblot tests.
Valsecchi’s photographs are reminiscent of oil paintings. Like previous works, such as Dust and Time of War, Klecksography is shot against a dark background, emulating classical portraiture. However, Valsecchi’s contemporary viewpoint stands out insofar as the bodies are seen in a cubist and geometric style. Faces are rarely focused on, allowing the body of work to play with the theme of anonymity.
Even though distinct features of the models are visible, such as a haircut style or a tattoo marking, his main point is to highlight the eccentric and fantastical shapes of the bodies. This, in turn, mitigates the theme of sexuality, and carries along the theme of anonymity.
Valsecchi created a video expounding upon the war and battle connotations he would prefer to focus on. Valsecchi himself says: "It's like a puzzle with different possibilities of the bigger picture. If you're looking at this series, bearing in mind the massacre of the Native Americans by Colonists, you will see a standing army", versus a frightened couple hiding behind their Iroquois leader. You will see an Eagle that was often used as a military badge as it suggests leadership and so on... Until you bring together every clue that each photo holds and see the story of a war. And I guess a different person would see a different story." The idea of war is apparent in works such as Minotaur, as well as in previous series such as Time of War, which challenges any preconceived ideas of what nude photography should look like.
Born in Paris in 1979, Valsecchi first gained attention in 2009 as a result of his series Dust, which explores the idea of a phoenix rising from the ashes. Like all of his work to date, Dust and Klecksography embody a minimalist aesthetic, though his process is still more complex. His photography has been exhibited worldwide and in 2012, he was the recipient of the prestigious Hasselblad Masters Award. The most impressive aspect of Valsecchi’s work is that he stays consistent to his wonderment and fascination of the body, and allows the body images to be enjoyed and not just sexualized. For the viewer, part of the appeal of Valsecchi’s work is that it’s so unusual to see bodies taken out of everyday context and used for an abstract purpose, let alone for a purpose as innovative as this.