Picture this: High fashion, high art intertwined at FMOPA

The works of three international fashion photographers will combine in one show for the first time at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts (FMoPA).

"High Fashion: Kristian Schuller, Billy & Hells, Taka Kobayashi,'' curated and hosted by FMoPA in downtown Tampa, opens May 1 and runs through June 22nd. It will kick off at FMoPA’s “First Friday” social hour, 6-8 p.m. on Friday. 

The exhibit, in large-form, brings to life the confluence of fashion and statement, the meeting of commercial and fine art. 

“Fashion photography is a natural bridging between fine art and documenting photography, “ says Zora Carrier, FMoPA’s Executive Director. “It is very much about aesthetic and conception, but also practical information.  This is a show commenting on the universal cosmopolitan of softness and femininity.”

While fashion is the common thread, each of the artists brings a distinct nuance to the table.  

Carrier describes Romanian-born Kristian Schuller, whose work is reminiscent of Daliesque surrealism, as “creating images out of this world,” with a “dreaminess and weirdness” that highlights the beauty of natural elements in stark contrast to the usual venues for high fashion. 

In FMoPA’s exhibit, Taka Kobayashi, of Japan, is working with the classical theme of geisha and fashion, but in a modern context.  Billy & Hells, a German photography duo, portrays pretty, feminine fashions of high aesthetic, “but the faces of the models are sad, with pain and suffering,” says Carrier, creating “a kind of unusual tension.” 

The FMoPA has a back-to-back line up of exhibits through the rest of the year. This summer, visitors can experience Florida-themed large format projects by two Tampa photographers Jason Henthorne and Joseph Gamble. In September, the FMoPA is collaborating with the Florida Aquarium in an underwater photography exhibit, which Carrier says is a joint effort to pay “homage to this deep earth interest.” New York based photographer Richard Renaldi, famous for his “Touching Strangers” project, will exhibit his work on hotel rooms and the “comfort and quirkiness of that.” The exhibit is timed to coincide with Tampa’s LGBT festival. 

Carrier says she is working on positioning the FMoPA as a social venue, “a nice place to come after work, maybe take a photography class.” To this end, she instituted monthly “First Fridays” at the museum, which include an opening or artist’s talk, food and wine. 

In addition to opening the High Fashion exhibit, this week’s First Friday will feature an artist talk by American photographer Jim Reynolds whose CityScapes exhibit is concurrently on display.

Read more articles by Kendra Langlie.

Kendra Langlie is a feature writer at 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
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