Surreal Photos of a Rainforest Filled with Gas Stations

Iconic Warhol-nurtured photographer David LaChapelle finds inspiration in American legend Edward Hopper.
July 31, 2016, 11:30am
Gas Shell, 2012, chromogenic print. All images courtesy the © David LaChapelle and Edward Hopper House

Once a suffocatingly simple picture of a gas station bordered by a scrubby, highway-adjacent landscape, Edward Hopper's Gas is emblematic of the realist painter's minimalist style, which Hopper painter meditated over extensively before ever even putting brush to canvas. Currently at the Edward Hopper House, the late artist's birthplace and childhood home, photographer David LaChappelle displays six large-scale photographs inspired, in part, by Hopper's haunting, mysterious work.


LaChapelle’s photos at the Edward Hopper House carry the dimly-lit tone and structure of Hopper’s signature works, but intentionally resonate with a futuristic tone, heightened by a neon palette.The photographer has favored the rainforests of Maui for many of his photos, a preference he carries over to Gas Stations. He states on the exhibit’s page, the contrived arrival of filling stations into the rainforest is reflective of "the absurdity of our attempts to harness nature.” The collection of fossil fuels and the intrusion of man-made assets into previously unharmed environments broils behind the dreamy-hued dichotomies.

Gas BP, 2012, chromogenic print, © David LaChapelle

A current art world mainstay, LaChapelle is known for his explosivevly Pop-y style. When LaChapelle was first establishing himself in New York, Andy Warhol tapped him as a photographer for Interview magazine, igniting the young photographer’s trajectory. Shortly after, he began capturing the star power of tens of hundreds of celebrities, which he continues to do still today.

Hopper, on the other hand, found great acclaim in his seminal painting of a dark, shadowed urban diner in The Nighthawk. The realistic image of a near desolate food stop at the height of night evokes Hopper’s penchant for painting believable scenes edged with creeping loneliness. He ran with this emotionality, bringing a sense of aching longing brought on my solitary habits in his other paintings created during the Depression era, such as New York MovieAutomat, and Early Sunday Morning.


View a few selections from the exhibit, David LaChapelle: Gas Stations:

Gas 76, 2012, chromogenic print, © David LaChapelle

Gas Chevron, 2012, chromogenic print, © David LaChapelle

Gas Exxon, 2012, cchromogenic print, © David LaChapelle

Gas am pm, 2012, chromogenic print, © David LaChapelle

The Edward Hopper House shows David LaChapelle: Gas Stations until September 11, 2016. Find more exhibit details, here.


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