Spectacular and outrageous, David LaChapelle's images cross cultures and genres. His extravagant take on Sandro Botticelli's Venus and Mars (c: 1484) is enlarged to massive proportions in MOCCA's courtyard. The Rape of Africa (2009) simultaneously references the grand architectural paintings of the Renaissance and the supersized advertising billboards of the present day. LaChapelle casts a regal yet passive-looking Naomi Campbell in the role of Venus, goddess of love and beauty, who is powerless to prevent the ravaging of both her body and land. A satiated Mars, the god of war, sits opposite, surrounded by gold and the spoils of his conquest while young boys playfully wield guns as if they are fashion accessories. Loaded with detail and symbolic reference to art history, current events and popular culture, LaChapelle's contemporary allegory evocatively comments on the effects of war, mining and mass marketing on Africa. Adhered directly to the surface of the courtyard's stuccoed wall, The Rape of Africa looks as much like a painting as a photograph, heightening the tension between the two mediums.
David LaChapelle (born in Fairfield, CT, 1963) has forged a singular style that is unmistakable yet often imitated. Since the 90s, his striking images have graced magazines worldwide, including Paris Vogue, The Face, DETAILS, Vanity Fair, New York Times Magazine and Rolling Stone. LaChapelle has photographed many of the world's most influential cultural personalities, from pop royalty to screen stars. His photographs have been exhibited extensively internationally, with recent solo shows throughout Europe, South America and China.