I first met Gerald DeCock across the bar at our favorite haunt, Le Singe Vert. The spot has become the go-to hang out over the years for many of us in the neighborhood and Gerald is one of those regulars. He is the kind of person one notices – dashingly handsome and silver bearded, stylishly eclectic and always put together in that effortless way that I have always envied in those who could carry it off. Gerald is the kind of person that one immediately knows is definitely “a somebody.” One of those somebodies who do things, many things…important and fabulous things.
Having dinner at the bar next to Gerald one night around a year ago, my husband Brad and I finally, properly introduced ourselves. The three of us struck up a conversation and we learned that Gerald was a hairdresser and artist who lived in The Chelsea Hotel for the past 20 plus years. Of course he is, and of course he does, we thought.
For those who may be unfamiliar with The Chelsea Hotel, over the years it has been an official, or adopted, cultural core and home to artists and writers, thinkers and free spirits. It is a place whose history, residents and energy have inspired countless creatives from all genres and points of view. It is especially rich with the history of the rebel artist – Dylan Thomas, William S. Burroughs, Stanley Kubrick, Sid Vicious, Allen Ginsberg, Leonard Cohen and NYC nightlife denizen, Susanne Bartsch, have all lived there at times.
As the night went on, the three of us talked about the fashion and beauty industries, about the people we knew in common and about our love for our neighborhood. We exchanged contact information and, as one does in 2016, we followed each other on Instagram. It was there on Instagram, a few days later that I found myself mesmerized with Gerald’s work. Haunting and beautiful and sometimes ironic, I knew I wanted to share his artistry with our On Makeup Magazine community. I hope his story and these images will inspire you as much as they have inspired me.
You shot these photos at The Chelsea Hotel. There is a lot of history in that building. Did that impact your process?
Definitely. I have lived at The Chelsea Hotel for 22 years. These images were created in my penthouse studio there, where I am endlessly inspired by my environment. I feel these images are channeling the Victorian ghosts that reside there.
Who are the models?
The subjects are all friends and individuals who inspire me, both an aesthetic point of view and by their spirits within.
The images put an amazing focus on the makeup aspectof the photo. What drove you toward that for this series?
I’ve always had a great respect for the makeup artists, stylists models and photographers I have worked with. With makeup artists especially, I’ve always been fascinated by the process. I felt that the makeup energy and effect in these images really brought the pieces together and gave them life.
When did you start working with photography as a medium for your art?
I began using a camera as a tool in my palette about eight years ago. Having worked with many different photographers in my career, I never paid any attention to the technical aspect, but was always aware when an image moved me.
You seem to be a true Renaissance man, yes?
I suppose the term may apply to me on a number of different levels. First of all, I’m very much inspired by Renaissance paintings and most things Old World in spirit. I have been creating art my entire life. I have found so much clarity through that process and truly love working in many different mediums. Fashion has been a perfect conduit for my creative expression. I have been working as a hairdresser in the fashion realm for 25 years in New York City. I know who I am as an artist and I know who I am as a hairdresser.
What do you try to affect with an image?
I would say the images that transport me are quiet in nature and evoke a painterly feel. The goal is to arrive at a delicate balance between a painting and a photo. I’m also very turned on by faces and really enjoy the casting process. The objective of art is to transport and move something within oneself. I feel privileged to be able to live my life as an artist and I never take for granted what a beautiful life I am living. I hope that others can find some type of inspiration in my work and find the courage to take risks creatively and follow their own passions, and hopefully in turn inspire another artist to do the same.
What’s next for Gerald DeCock?
I’m finishing up the first in a series of short films about dreams. I’m codirecting with artist, filmmaker and longtime collaborator, Regina Harris. The film is being shot by Joseph DiGiovanna. I’m also in post-production on a film directed by my friend Delfine Paolini. It’s based on Alice in Wonderland and is called 222. It was shot entirely in my apartment and I stretched my acting chops for it to play the White Rabbit .
Words Michael DeVellis
Photos/Artwork/Digital Gerald DeCock
Models Larissa Simpson, Dominic Vine, Delfine Paolini,
Brandon Acton Bond, Kenyon Phillips, Paula Mcgonagle,
Leanne Hutchison, Pamela Racine, Ramona Canino,
Mike Heverly, Paul Jenkins, Jeffrey Williams, Kelly Dafni,
Elisa jimenez, Mollie King, Louis Mandelbaum, David
Robinson, Daniel Larino
Collaborators Meli Pennington, Renzo Composto
Contributors Page Photo Mark Sink