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Kunsthal Rotterdam Presents World of Mysterious Beauty by Marcel van der Vlugt
Photograph by Marcel van der Vlugt

ROTTERDAM.-With the works of photographer Marcel van der Vlugt Kunstal Rotterdam presents a world full of mysterious beauty. The quest for beauty can be considered as the central theme of these works. Various series of photographs show wilted flowers, alluring nude or bandaged bodies and mystic landscapes. These pictures, mostly staged and composed, find their inspiration in the visual language of various media, amongst which the fashion and advertising industry. It is for the very first time that several series are presented simultaneously at an exhibition.

Various aspects of beauty, such as beauty ideals, transitoriness and makability, are leitmotivs in Van der Vlugts work. The floral still lives from the ‘buds' series are clear examples of this, showing us beauty manifesting itself rather unexpectedly in withered flowers. The double portraits and nudes from the series 'Before & After' refer to the cliché advertisements for beauty centers. In the series ‘I like....', Van der Vlugts gives his models a second skin, consisting of cacao powder, salmon or cheese. This results in photographs that have a somewhat alienating effect on the beholder. The series ‘A New Day', presenting an imaginary beauty clinic for plastic surgery, is Van der Vlugts reaction to the current day make-over industry. In this clinic it is blossom, which is a clear metaphor for spring and fertility, that is implanted in the nudes portrayed, thus showing the contradiction between eternal youth and transitoriness.

In his quest for beauty Van der Vlugt also traveled to three different villages called Beauty, situated in, respectively, Kentucky, West Virginia and South Africa. This resulted in a series of landscape photographs that stress not only loneliness and desolation, but also the literal beauty of that which is ordinary and commonplace. Prominence is given to the series called ‘Rejects', consisting of photographs that Van der Vlugt took commissioned by magazines such as Avenue, Dutch or La Vie en Rose and for various advertising campaigns. All these photographs have at one time or another been censured or rejected and have not yet been published, and have therefore been kept secret so far.

Marcel van der Vlugt
Marcel van der Vlugt (1957) has often exhibited his work, both within the Netherlands and abroad - his photographs have been on display in, amongst others, the Photo Museum at The Hague, the MCA in Chicago and in the Louis Vuitton Gallery in Tokio. His beauty - and fashion series have been published in various international magazines and he has filmed and taken photographs for numerous international advertising campaigns. Van der Vlugt has won several awards, amongst which the ADCN Lamp for Best Photography and a Gold Lion.

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