Abandoning the role of super singer, sought after and desired by all Hollywood stars – who has regularly “iconified” in his shots or video clips – abandoning the hyper-worldly life, abandoning Los Angeles, he has retired to his home in Hawaii, surrounded by forest and silence.
From being a Star (with a capital S), to being with himself. To find himself again, to reconnect with the true meaning of life. This might be confusing, at first glance, with the choice of an ascetic life, away from it all; even from his own art.
But it is not so; after all we are talking about one of the most important photographers of our time (even though the term is reductive, in this case). The silence, peace and lots and lots of swimming help to think, to let ideas flow better, to let thoughts in, to find that coveted balance of the spirit which had lost track for a while.
His last work starts from here .An introspective vision of vanity and beauty … in Lachapelle. With titles like Springtime, Late Summer or Deathless Winter, he wanted to look at the four seasons, alluding the life cycle: from birth to death.
The title of the series, Earth Laughs in Flowers (more or less “the flowers are the smile of the Earth”), is openly inspired by the poem Hamatreya by Ralph W. Emerson in which flowers are the expression of the laughter that the Earth has towards the arrogance of the human being, who always believes he can dominate the forces of nature. An idea that relates to the representation of the Baroque vanity, the Baroque still-life where the concept is linked to the hubris* and the transcending of human existence: flowers, fruits, plants, animals, insects, masks, candles, clocks or skulls, symbols of transience and the senseless nature of vanity “Just like withered flowers, all of us will see our beauty fade away.”
Lachapelle has transposed the concept from painting to photography, with his very personal iconography. So, looking at the pictures you see appear, among the flowers, cigarette butts, newspapers of the day before, old mobile phones, pieces of plastic, Barbie dolls, masks, medical implants, manga masks, pieces of burned American flags, paper airplanes, balloons, cans, leftover food, body parts and many other fragments of a problematic and lonely society like ours; increasingly drowned in smart devices and social networks.
A symbolic imagery, bizarre and often excessive; a beautiful celebration of life, before it ends.
*Hubris is a Greek word, and summarizes, superficially, the concept of “honourable arrogance, around which the honour of men masks the selfishness of their deeds“