Inside Hugo Comte and IB Kamara’s powerful new exhibition
The photographer and Dazed’s editor-in-chief join forces on Testament – a transcendental collection of images that seek to reframe historic iconography
Hugo Comte’s work is almost immediately recognisable. The Parisian photographer’s images clash high fashion and pop culture, with their subjects’ personalities practically leaping off the page of whatever glossy mag or coffee table tome they’re featured in – a heady concoction of the bolshy campaigns of the 90s and something that simultaneously feels so fresh and now.
Working with major labels including Marc Jacobs and Valentino, as well as publications like 032c, Re-Edition, and a little magazine you might know as Dazed & Confused, he’s also the brains behind Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia album artwork, which, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two years, it’s highly likely you’re familiar with.
Rihanna’s pregnancy portraits are High Art
Gilded heavenly beings and Gaultier reimagined: the SS22 couture must-sees
Kim Kardashian is officially the face of Balenciaga
The new star of Donatella Versace’s latest campaign is… Donatella Versace
In what’s proving to be a turbo-charged month for Comte, as he dives into the metaverse to drop a digital token powered by P00ls, and gears up to launch his first-ever fashion line with rising designer and CSM graduate Lois Saunders, the photographer is also throwing open the doors to his debut solo exhibition on February 3.
Created in collaboration with visionary stylist and Dazed’s very own editor-in-chief IB Kamara, Testament seeks to question, dismantle, and reframe historical archetypes and cultural touchstones, reimagining ancient mythology, sacred art, and pop culture through a new lens that transcends time and belief.
Across 15 monumental photographs, Comte and Kamara recast the ‘heroes’ and cultural figures of Western iconography in a much more diverse fashion – from cops clashing with punks and anarchists, and armour-clad knights, right through to a languid depiction of white-robed models piled on top of each other à la an Ancient Grecian tableaux carved in stone.
Perhaps the most powerful image, however, is one which sees Jesus Christ reimagined as a Black woman, arms outstretched on the cross, her natural hair rendered halo-like through the light that illuminates her from behind.
According to Comte, the project was around two years in the making, and deeply personal to both himself and Kamara. “We both feel a real need to express who we are, our souls and minds, and our history,” the photographer, who is of Algerian and Caribbean heritage, reveals. “There was no intention for it when we first started the project – we weren’t thinking about it becoming an exhibition or anything really. We just knew we needed to create the images.”
Though completely separate to Kamara’s work for Louis Vuitton, where late designer Virgil Abloh spent the last few seasons particularly dismantling and reframing existing archetypes, Testament feels cohesive in its similar intention to shift the narrative away from a historically Western viewpoint. Taking over Paris’s Galerie Hussenot until February 26, if you’re lucky enough to be in the city across this period, it’s a bonafide must-see.