When conducting these informal interviews, I have come to learn that you just never know what can and will be said nor can you predict the demeanor of your subject. That said, then there is Matthias Vriens-McGrath and all bets are off as he exudes a charm, irreverence and charisma that few possess.
The man is exactly what I thought he might be and so much more; he is protagonist, antagonist, story teller, evocateur, provocateur, in your face, passionate, mischievous, portraitist and that’s just for starters. What impressed me most about him is the man has this self-effacing sense of humor which is pervasive and sometimes quite evident in his work and in his words. He is a stand-alone when it comes to creatives and especially when it comes to the inhabitants of the fashion world.
His oeuvre is very personal and not of the cookie cutter variety as he combines techniques of the great masters of the craft (think Weber, Newton, Avedon, Mizer) but seasoned with his own distinctive signatures. He is a great fan of black and white due to its intense possibilities; he is at home with celebrities as he is with fledgling models, he is equally at ease with advertising as he is with editorial. He is outrageous and he is apple pie and motherhood. He is a man of contradictions and convictions as well.
Matthias is not what you would call predictable and is just about as charming and endearing as anyone can aspire to but I’m not sure that is a universal when it comes to everyone and everything. My dealings with him lead me to understand that he is a chameleon of sorts and yet he never loses his innate characteristics… let’s say he knows how and when to temper his moods and words.
Despite his pressure cooker schedule and being in the midst of prepping and compiling several books, as you will read below, I am greatly appreciative that he took some time to share some of his thoughts with me for this VULKAN interview.
RYAN REYNOLDS by Matthias Vriens
Jeffrey Felner: Can you catch us up to how you arrived at your present position?
Matthias Vriens-McGrath: I took my clothes off, lifted the duvet and jumped in.
JF: If you could choose, what would be your dream collaborator and why?
MVM: I’m most usually most obsessed with current affairs. Working with Benedict Taschen on my Big Penis book is pretty intense and a great subject matter to explore; not merely for ‘slut’s’ sake, but the penis as a metaphor for male dominance, sexual taboo, the myth and obsession.
JF: If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would they be and why?
MVM: I’ve learned over the years not to mythologize actors, musicians, people… it never works. Often they bore me, not that they are boring, but due to a lack of connection/communication.
I would put on my wish list some people, dear friends that passed away and that I miss tremendously … but that’s not possible unfortunately…
JF: You are both provocateur and story teller; which aspect of your career do you most think defines you as an artist and why?
MVM: Provocateur/ provocation for sure… not just for the sake of it … I like to raise awareness, but the thought to shock and provoke I find hilarious and nothing short of thrilling … and it’s just sóóó easy these days..
JF: What lies ahead for you as far as career? Prospective campaigns? Assignments?
MVM: Taschen global Big Penis book, I love big dick … media 2018, Photography project of male ballet dancers and a trip to Russia and an interiors project ‘pop up shop’ Atelier MVM in May 2017.
JF: Is there any part of your career that you regret and why?
MVM: I could have been more patient at times in my career, hold onto positions longer … benefit from the work, before moving on … but then again I would have not moved to all of the places I ended up in. I am by no means a corporate man and that gets me into trouble at times…
but it’s all good.
P.S. for an unabridged view of this artist’s inimitable works, follow him on Instagram and hold onto your hats!
Interview by Jeffrey Felner
Post expires at 4:21am on Monday January 1st, 2018