Amidst The Glitter-Arty

by Gus Donohoo

Delightful Decadence at Nicoline Aagesen's UNCENSORED by TIZIANA DeS Pallieres

On the 18th of May, Danish photographer Nicoline Aagesen held her pop-up exhibition UNCENSORED for one night only, in the Jerome Zodo Gallery. The gallery inhabits its prime new two-floor location in Hay Hill, a stone's throw from Berkeley Square, in the heart of London's Mayfair district.

UNCENSORED's curator is Tiziana des Pallieres, Nicoline's friend and occasional subject. Tiziana is the founder of Artizians, a London-based online art gallery and creative agency who specialize in contemporary photography, exhibition curation, and art project management and development. 

Josie Smith went along to see what was happening on a wet Thursday night in London.

Tiziana des Pallieres left, Nicoline Aagesen right

Tiziana des Pallieres left, Nicoline Aagesen right

The imagery facing me in this art-filled pocket of London's affluent West End, is beguilingly glossy. It's a mixture of colourful, sharp and louche, self-satisfied sexual freedom. UNCENSORED the exhibition is. The prints openly bare swathes of unapologetic seductive flesh - but not in a manner that is really raw or real. Instead UNCENSORED gives us snapshots of a glistening aspirational millennial world, bathing in the sunshine of youth and modernity.

As well as now taking charge behind the camera lens, photographer Nicoline Agesen - whose mantra is "My camera, My rules" - is also a model.  Thus far, she has mainly only shot her friends, who are, not altogether unsurprisingly, all slim, cool, gazelle-like creatures, who in turn pout, preen and pose for her camera, in the way only a unselfconsious bright young thing can. Although Nicoline admirably doesn't use any form of retouching during the production of her images, the misfortunes of celulite, prolapsed skin and indeed, any form of even slight facial disfigurement are comfortably at least a decade away from any of her genetically blessed subjects.

The pictures are all beautiful in a sense, some more overtly provocative and erotic than others, but truth be told, I could see the attraction of all of them. In the same way we all now all covet and worship angled and filtered images of ourselves, where we capture a moment that is devoid of the hardship, stress and ennui of everyday life, so Nicoline's pictures depict a world of super-cool, hip, and sometimes dreamy moments. The aura of otherworldiness stems from the slight haziness in images like 'Stardust Motel' and 'Roller Girl'. 

Nicoline explained that she wants everyone to have freedom to express themselves, particularly the models she photographs. She first picked up a camera in the somewhat constrained surroundings of Hong Kong, where the modelling industry is pretty much a conservative and somewhat mechanical business. (Personally, I've always thought that there was an echo of Geisha traditions surrounding it all - many of the most successful working models are very petite, doe-eyed and doll-like.) Nicoline enthusiastically discussed the fact that she always wanted to be "photographed as a crazy badass!" and bemoaned the fact that model's own personalities were never really captured in Hong Kong, inspiring her to pick up a camera and create shots whereby "my picture is the party". 

I think her images are very similar to many of the flawless and sleek pictures we see scrolling through countless social media platforms, where the overconfident young pretenders overshare altogether one too many aspects of their playboy/girl lifestyles. However, I think the sexy sheen of Nicoline's work can be more attributed to her natural Scandinavian openness and curiosity, and penchant for fly-on-the-wall documentation, rather than to any sort of aesthetic materialism, or narcissism. She's very friendly and enthusiastic, but has a glint of something approaching a tough ambition about her, much like her work - which is unapologetic and bold. 
We talked a bit about judgement and labels. She herself believes in some ways today there's now a more negative aspect to humanity. She thinks by increasingly communicating more online, and by sharing parts of our lives and ourselves with the world via social media - we're laid a bit more bare, and therefore much more open to harsh and petty critisism and comment. Happily, in the way I think that only especially attractive people can, Nicoline appears to genuinely not really care what critics think, "I want to inspire people, and if people buy and like the work - then that's always a plus! It's just nice to be able to share your art - it's your heat and your passion. I want my subjects to have a good time - it's mostly about having fun and capturing a moment. Cut loose - you don't have to be perfect, have fun."

And that is pretty much a perfect description of what her lively, free and open images depict. 

UNCENSORED's curator, and Nicoline's close friend, is the charming Tiziana des Pallieres, who grew up in Hungary, where she describes a privileged and comfortable upbringing, "which brought opportunities, but Daddy wasn't supplying everything." However her "studying art was not acceptable. My parents asked what I would end up doing if I did - was I going to become a librarian?! The Soviet mindset favours more professional and business-like endeavours from those beginning their careers. To study law or medicine for example, is more admirable. Artists are associated with starving. In the end I finished studying business in London to appease my family, and in the summer I studied art in New York. It was definitely the place for me to study at the time. London probably did always have an exciting art scene, but I just wasn't exposed to it at that point. Classic art seems to be more relevant here. I split my time now mainly between London and LA, but it's LA that inspires me most now. I'm really influenced by Terry Richardson and David Lachapelle."

When talking about Nicoline's work in UNCENSORED she states without even a beat of irony that it's "Art you want to hang in your penthouse. It's not for a chateau." And she's probably right. This art is shiny, contemporary, and topical. It's crying out for a loft-style apartment wall and a stark back-drop. Tiziana picks out 'Golden Girls' as her favourite piece; perhaps not unsurprisingly. It's the first in a collection of three pictures, which are amongst the shiniest nudes of all. There's a slight touch of bejewelled Eastern European bling to them, and to Tizania also. All are very pretty. 

I enjoyed UNCENSORED. The images give you a fleeting glimpse into a world of free, empowering, fashion forward fun. It's an elevation of our now everyday online art world that we scroll through. And I'm curious as to what will come to artistic fruition next, after Nicoline and Tiziana spend the impending summer months travelling together. To see behind-the-scenes footage from UNCENSORED, and to follow these girls on their travels see Instagram, @nicolineaagesen @tiziana_des_pallieres @artizians 

Written by Josie Smith