The Body as a Temple In Works of Belgian Photographer Eric Marrian
29 september 2021 
19 min. read

The Body as a Temple In Works of Belgian Photographer Eric Marrian

At the end of 2020, we wrote here about Japanese photographer Eikoh Hosoe whose depictions of the human body demonstrate a great sense of proportion and contrast. This time we show you a set that conceptually resembles Hosoe’s Embrace series (1971).

Eikoh Hosoe, Embrace (1971); Eric Marrian, The White Square

Fig. 1. Left: Eikoh Hosoe, Embrace (1971); Right: Eric Marrian, The White Square (2005)

Eric Marrian

Fig. 2. 163.com

Almost Suprematism

Eric Marrian, the artist behind these photos, was born in France in 1959. His background as an architectural designer is clearly visible in this set. Marrian gave up his initial specialization at the beginning of the 2000s out of his love for photography. This series entitled “The White Square” was produced in 2005. The title in connection with the abstract style of photography may remind you of suprematism invented by Kazimir Malevich. By the way, Malevich’s famous “Red Square” that’s not really a square also has the name “The Peasant Woman In Two Dimensions” (geometry can be seductive too!). Allegedly, Marrian’s title is a reference to the white square that was used as a visual icon of erotic programs in European broadcasting of the 1970s. Others may remember classic Man Ray’s nudes, namely his Anatomies (1929) depicting a woman’s neck (Fig. 5).

Eric Marrian photographer

Fig. 3. 163.com

Eric Marrian Belgian

Fig. 4. 163.com

eric marrian man ray

Fig. 5. Left: Eric Marrian (163.com) Right: Man Ray Anatomies, 1929 (moma.org)

Marble and Flesh

In his series, Marrian follows the Asian tradition of portraying women with porcelain white skin, while the man’s skin is always darker. Marrian and Hosoe push this difference to its’ limit and make women shiny white and men black. Some ancient commentators of the Bible provide us with a curious explanation: they point at the fact that Adam was made from clay outside the paradise, while Eve was created from Adam’s rib, which is nobler than the clay as it underwent some manipulations, and the process itself took place in Eden. The human body in Marrian’s images has little in common with the real one if we speak about the skin. Its’ color and curves unavoidably evoke in your mind Bernini’s marble oeuvres, e. g. The Rape of Proserpina, 1622 (fig. 9). Yet some photographs are stunningly close not to the marble equivalent of the body but human flesh an sich that was Hans Bellmer’s lifelong obsession. Marrian manages to show the female body both as Renaissance Proserpina by Bernini and as masochistic Venus in the shibari installation made by Bellmer and Unica Zürn (fig. 10).

eric marrian Belgian artist

Fig. 6. 163.com

Eric Marrian black and white photography

Fig. 7. 163.com

Eric Marrian shibari

Fig. 8. 163.com

Bernini’s sculpture

Fig. 9. Bernini’s sculpture (pxleyes.com)

Eric Marrian, 2005; Right: Unica Zürn photographed by Hans Bellmer

Fig. 10. Left: Eric Marrian, 2005; Right: Unica Zürn photographed by Hans Bellmer, 1958

Eric Marrian photography

Fig. 11. pxleyes.com

photographer Eric Marrian

Fig. 12. pxleyes.com

Eric Marrian bodies

Fig. 13. pxleyes.com

Eric Marrian nude bodies

Fig. 14. pxleyes.com

Eric Marrian nude

Fig. 15. pxleyes.com

Eric Marrian Belgian photographer

Fig. 16. pxleyes.com

Eric Marrian x photographer

Fig. 17. pxleyes.com

Eric Marrian exhibition

Fig. 18. pxleyes.com

Eric Marrian legs

Fig. 19. pxleyes.com

bodies Eric Marrian

Fig. 20. pxleyes.com

A Landscape and a Temple

In general, photographers working in the nude genre present the body as a landscape and draw parallels between body curves and desert dunes or hills. Yet, there are artists who treat the flesh not as an extension of the landscape or its’ smaller version but as an architectural or sculptural construction. We can put it as two curiously different approaches composing a binary system where the first approach correlates with philosophic theories or with pagan cults considering humans as a part of nature. The second approach implies that the human is something that differs from nature practically as much as Eve differs from Adam and a temple from a tree. While the tree is growing, the temple is being built, constructed, and reconstructed. Surely, in the works of some photographers, these methods or views interlace, for instance, in the Acrobats of Acey Harper, where the body is an organic element of the landscape, but the landscape is often urban, so acrobats become decorative pieces of buildings or replace fountain sculptures. When we speak of Eric Marrian, his works seem to demonstrate the highest point of the second approach as the artist focuses both on the shape of the body itself and on the shape of shoots that is always square. This double artistic self-restraint turns the whole set into a challenge that is curious to watch. The square filled with the white skin of the curved female body grows from a TV-icon to the symbol of world creation and the creation of humans in particular.

Nude Bodies Eric Marrian

Fig. 21. pxleyes.com

Eric Marrian buttocks

Fig. 22. pxleyes.com

Eric Marrian hands

Fig. 23. pxleyes.com

Eric Marrian fingers

Fig. 24. pxleyes.com

Eric Marrian erotic

Fig. 25. pxleyes.com

Eric Marrian arms and legs

Fig. 26. pxleyes.com

Eric Marrian upper body

Fig. 27. pxleyes.com

Eric Marrian breasts

Fig. 28. pxleyes.com

Eric Marrian body shapes

Fig. 29. pxleyes.com

body eric Marrian

Fig. 30. pxleyes.com

Eric Marrian body shape

Fig. 31. pxleyes.com

Eric Marrian face

Fig. 32. pxleyes.com

Eric Marrian silhouette

Fig. 33. pxleyes.com

Sources: mail.ru, 163.com

Click HERE for an article about the female body as a landscape by Edward Weston…!!

Let us know your thoughts on Marrian’s photographs in the comment box below….!!

About the author
Darya is a philologist who lives and works in Saint-Petersburg, Russia. She is specialized in Russian literature.
Paul P
By

Paul P

on 29 Sep 2021

Very reminiscent of Tono's work.

Darya
By

Darya

on 29 Sep 2021

Yes, in terms of acrobatics they're similar enough

Abdull F.
By

Abdull F.

on 29 Sep 2021

Nice

Marijn
By

Marijn

on 29 Sep 2021

Thanks Abdull!

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