Having just published an anthology of her (mostly personal and non-commercial) work with photographer husband Ronald Stoops, make up’s anti-made up Inge Grognard speaks to Jim Morrall. A long and twisted career encompassing commissions and collaborations with the first and second waves of Belgian talent, her influence on image making can be felt from Van Noten to Vandevorst and Bikkemberg to Branquinho.
Have you ever had a situation where your artistic beliefs are at odds with a brief? If so, how do you deal with that?
It’s rare that this happens, and there is a difference between a commercial job or an editorial. People put an option on you with a reason, because most of the time they like your work or style, so creatively it is never far from what I like, even when it is for a commercial and you are asked to follow the drawing or example they give you it’s up to me to deal in a professional way.
Some people might say that street castings, the hipster movement, etc have seen a groundswell aversion to plastic, perfect image making. Is that right or are we still just as obsessed with mediocrity?
I think we need them all, it’s all about action and reaction, it’s something what always existed, and still will continue.
It has been said that your work is comparable to ‘art brut’, or outsider art; you play outside the boundaries of traditional culture. Do you agree? If so, what are the implications of that on the creation of fashion images – which are essentially a marketing tool?
First of all I consider this as a big compliment, I try to find and for sure in my individual work another way of showing beauty, in collaborations even in commercial work I do a kind of a translation, and indeed more accessible sometimes for a bigger public but with a signature, even when it’s small.
Tension is a part of your working process. Why does that help? How do you create tension in the workplace without damaging your relationship?
It’s my way, or more our (Ronald’s and my) way, it makes us more awake, aware and we love “shooting words” to each other; action, reaction and you start to think, to defend your idea, both, as long as we come to the perfect match! And it has never damaged our relationship or our relationships with others because we go at the end for strong images!
In your book, Jean Paul Cauvin cites Zeus-Peter Lama, the crazy artist imagined by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt in his novel ‘When I was a Work of Art’, “Beauty is a misfortune. It generates laziness and sloth. Ugliness is a blessing calling for the exceptional. It can transform life into a magnificent destiny.” Is there a relationship between stupidity and beauty?
Maybe but more in terms like exaggerated plastic surgery.
What is beauty anyway?
Impossible to answer, beauty is everywhere; you only have to see, feel or hear it.
Inge Grognard | Ronald Stoops is available now, published by Ludion.
Words by Jim Morrall