French photographer Verner deGray has traded in the chaos of the fashion world for a quieter, more introspective life in French Polynesia. Inspired by artist Paul Gauguin, deGray has found solace in the islands, where he creates figurative work that stands in stark contrast to the typical tourist images of bright colors and smiling natives. Instead, deGray’s work features the raw beauty of naked men against chaotic backdrops, inviting the viewer to focus on the subject rather than the scenery.
“I want to highlight the man,” deGray explained. “The contrast with the chaotic scene draws attention to the subject, rather than allowing the viewer’s gaze to wander aimlessly through the image. People often ask why I don’t shoot my models on beautiful beaches, but for me, that’s like putting a Lamborghini and a Ferrari together. Both are beautiful, but the viewer’s focus is lost in the spectacle, and the individual beauty of each car is diminished.”
DeGray’s latest exhibit, which features a series of images of naked men against the stunning landscapes of French Polynesia, has sparked controversy in some circles. However, deGray believes that his work celebrates the male form in a way that is both respectful and artistic. “There is nothing inherently sexual about the naked human body,” he said. “It is simply a beautiful form that deserves to be celebrated and appreciated.”
Whether you find deGray’s work controversial or inspiring, it’s clear that he has found a new home and a new artistic inspiration in the islands of French Polynesia. His images capture the raw beauty of the male form and invite the viewer to see the world in a new and different way.