‘Heroes + Vil­lains,’ all grown up

Philip Bon­neau de­buts third ex­hibit of comic, Dis­ney characters

GA Voice - - A & E -

Heroes. Vil­lains. From comic books to Dis­ney films, from He-Man and Skele­tor to the Lit­tle Mer­maid and Ur­sula, so many iconic child­hood sto­ries are di­vided into th­ese two char­ac­ter types, one good, one evil, each need­ing the other to ex­ist.

“Ev­ery­one has a choice to live life as a hero or a vil­lain. I do think some peo­ple can lean ei­ther way, but pre­dom­i­nantly re­main in the gray area. All of that is rel­a­tive really and that an­swer is some­thing that only we can ask our­selves,” says At­lanta pho­tog­ra­pher Philip Bon­neau, whose new ex­hibit, “Heroes + Vil­lains 3” opens Nov. 16 at In­her­ent De­sign Lab, and in­cludes each of those characters and many more.

“I think in the con­text of this se­ries, es­pe­cially this show, that there is no good or evil present in th­ese characters,” he con­tin­ues. “I think it is very suc­cess­ful at find­ing beauty in even the most vil­lain­ous of characters.”

Bon­neau cre­ated “Heroes + Vil­lains” as a four-part se­ries, call­ing it “ba­si­cally a metaphor for life and grow­ing into who I am.”

“If you look at my first show, it is very in­no­cent, very child­like. With H+V2, it was al­most like the teenage years be­ing a lit­tle bit more elab­o­rate, pushes some but­tons and a hint of sex­u­al­ity but it still was un­sure of it­self,” he says. “With this new show, it rep­re­sents adult­hood. It rep­re­sents be­ing truly con­fi­dent in who you are and own­ing it.”

Kick­start­ing his art

Con­fi­dence isn’t the only dif­fer­ence in “Heroes + Vil­lains 3.” For the ear­lier in­stall­ments, each photo shoot was cre­ated on a shoe­string bud­get.

“With this new show, I al­ways knew the­mat­i­cally that it was to be the spec­ta­cle and shock show that needed to ad­vance from the $10-20 bud­get I had pre­vi­ously for each shoot,” Bon­neau says.

He spent a month pro­mot­ing his project on Kick­starter.com, a fundrais­ing web­site for cre­ative projects, and was amazed by the re­sults.

“I even went as far as post­ing a pic­ture of my­self naked hold­ing up a sign ask­ing for help when I truly thought the goal was not go­ing to be met,” Bon­neau re­calls. “In the end, help is what I got. With over 221 donors, pre­dom­i­nantly from At­lanta, but all through­out the world, I raised $15,970.

“The na­tional at­ten­tion and sup­port was def­i­nitely an over­whelm­ing ex­pe­ri­ence,” he says.

Five months later, Bon­neau presents his la­bor of love, which he de­scribes as in­clud­ing more Dis­ney and pop cul­ture characters than his past ex­hibits, as well as more models dressed in drag, which he says helps “cre­ate a com­plete es­cape from re­al­ity.”

“There is sex­u­al­ity present,” he adds. “There are pieces that would be un­com­fort­able to see, but in the end it is about find­ing beauty in even the strangest of things. For the first time you truly get a sense of Heroes + Vil­lains as a thriv­ing world of in­di­vid­u­al­ity where the models are truly alive in th­ese im­ages.”

A night to give back

Heroes + Vil­lains 3 opens Nov. 16 and runs through Dec. 7 at In­her­ent De­sign Lab.

“The open­ing event is the only way to see this show as the artist in­tended,” Bon­neau says.

All 50 pieces will hang to­gether that night, with framed wall prints and comic book prints avail­able.

“Some pieces that really are risque will only be up for that evening and I’ve gone as far as even get­ting some of the models from the im­ages to per­form live at the open­ing in char­ac­ter such as Dy­lan Micheal as Cruella De’Ville and DJ Chris Gris­wold is spin­ning mu­sic dressed as Iron­man from H+V1,” Bon­neau says.

A silent auc­tion of the art will ben­e­fit AID At­lanta.

“This show was made pos­si­ble by the en­tire com­mu­nity and it was very im­por­tant for me to give it back to the com­mu­nity,” he ex­plains.

And as the show reaches the pub­lic, Bon- ‘Heroes + Vil­lains’ Fri­day, Nov. 16, 7-11 p.m. In­her­ent De­sign Lab 996 Huff Road NW, Suite C At­lanta, GA 30318 http://on.fb.me/RJ0kwt neau is al­ready think­ing about Heroes + Vil­lains 4, the “swan song of the se­ries.”

“It’s the end of life and look­ing back at what you have done with it. Were you good to your­self? Did you ac­com­plish ev­ery­thing you wanted? It will be com­pletely dif­fer­ent from all the oth­ers with models be­ing all start­ing at roughly the age 60,” he says. “From an artist per­spec­tive, it is sup­posed to be the point in my work where I have gone through this in­cred­i­ble jour­ney and I de­cide what to do with my life from there.”

In the mean­time, Bon­neau hopes that view­ers take from his third show the knowl­edge that “we are all beau­ti­ful and wor­thy of be­ing show­cased and ad­mired.”

“I think I leave it up to the viewer to take what they want from it. There are def­i­nitely many, many lay­ers to this show. They can look at it as a satir­i­cal char­ac­ter study or a story about more ac­cu­rately about the models them­selves,” he says.

“They have an op­tion to treat me as a hero or a vil­lain, but in the end th­ese in­cred­i­ble characters co­ex­ist with one an­other.”

My Lit­tle Pony and Malef­i­cent from ‘Sleep­ing Beauty’ are two of the characters por­trayed in the third in­stall­ment of Philip Bon­neau’s ‘Heroes + Vil­lains’ se­ries.(Pho­tos by Philip Bon­neau)

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