Wendy Bevan

by John-Paul Pryor

The Dark Heart of the Velvet Goldmine
The visual artist, musician, and fashion photographer Wendy Bevan is nothing short of underground royalty—a creature of disarming beauty conjuring a darkly lit, ethereal, and erotic alternative universe that captures a strange symmetry in temporality, dream-states, and decay. Bevan works across a vast smorgasbord of media. She channels her unique vision through international art galleries, leading fashion titles, and musical projects such as the hyperreal and hypnagogic Temper Temper, in which she takes on the alter ego of a wild-eyed semi-tragic Dietrich-esque femme fatale. 

“I understand life through performance, music, and pictures,” she says, when asked what drives her voracious and multi-faceted creativity. “If I didn’t create my own world, it would mean I would have to survive in someone else’s, and that would be my own parody—a withering tragedy. The tedious reality of the day-to-day can shatter me to my core. I want to rebel, escape, and intoxicate myself in the possibility of exceptional desires.”

In her photo shoot for Flaunt, the cultural provocateur steps from behind her own camera to be photographed by the exceptional fashion photographer Paulina Otylie Surys, whose own surreal, somewhat gothic, aesthetic has certain parallels with Bevan’s. “Wendy creates a dramatic, multi-layered chimerical universe that reminds me, in some senses, of the psychoanalyst Joan Riviere’s Womanliness as a Masquerade,” says Surys. “Riviere wrote the famous line: ‘womanliness could therefore be assumed and worn as a mask,’ and her work examined how the adoption of a certain femininity—and the wish to be desired—acts as an interplay between anxiety, amour, and armor. It could be said that Wendy’s images are a form of psychoanalytic self-representation, dancing between the dichotomy of the femme fatale, the anxiety of desire, and the perceived role of a classical muse.”

Surys is also distinct in that she has a strong background in classical painting and creates works that are permeated with dramatic tension, heavily layered with various treatments to give the feeling of a space that is neither photographic nor painterly, but a unique marriage of the two disciplines. “Paulina’s work is so brave. It is dripping with tragedy, betrayal, and deep desires, folded away tightly in a forgotten void,” says Bevan, cryptically. “The beating pulse that weaves through each tableaux, knocks on your door at night and ruptures your dreams.”

In this shoot, the two creative wunderkinds join forces to explore the place where their visionary approaches interlace—as well as that which sets them apart—in a rich visual narrative that feels like a conceptual love triangle between the starkly alternative universes of Lewis Carroll, Octave Mirbeau, and The Marquis de Sade.

“It was a daring task but I was attempting to get to the heart of my muse,” Surys says of the shoot. “I have to admit, it took a lot of energy, and it was almost draining. The mutual knowledge of the subject and profession was constantly getting me closer to Wendy and further from her at the same time, and eventually this push-and-pull escalated into a sudden release of intense passion.”

 

Photographer: Paulina Otylie Surys at PaulinaOtylieSurys.co.uk. Stylist: Joanna Hir at JoannaHir.com. Models: Ani alitalo for PaparazziModels.com and Sophie Dillion for nevsmodels.co.uk. Hair: Benny Hancock at Benny-Hancock.com. Makeup: Michelle Webb at MichelleWebb.com. Photography Assistant: Thank Le and Trang Kieu. Styling Assistant: Robert Marciniak.