What Does Paul Rowland Tell Us About Ford Models?

“I am not a Satanist by any means, but I am always fascinated by darkness,” says Paul Rowland, the founder and former director of the industry-revolutionizing Supreme Modeling Agency, who’s found no shortage of ways to employ his models. With The Transformation of Enrique Miron as El Diablo, Rowland’s new exhibition of his own photographs, he charts the transformation of Enrique Miron into the devil, a nightmarish world in which the model is agonizingly tempted to the dark side, sometimes topped with horns and covered in paint.

“It’s kind of forbidden, it’s kind of taboo, and I just thought I would explore that part of myself through images,” says Rowland, talking both about the religiosity of the imagery, and the intense, stagey narrative. The photographer says his influences were classical, but as diverse as Durer and William Blake. The  style is high-gloss dark and gritty. An image of Miron dressed according to Velaquez’s portrait of Pope Innocent, and Francis Bacon’s existential re-imaging of the image. No one can fault Rowland for a lack of ambition. “I have always been obsessed with Bacon, although I can’t say I’ve been obsessed with the Pope,” he says. ” I just thought, you know, balls to the wall, if you are going to take it there you might as well just really take it.”

Rowland recently left Supreme to head the Women’s section of Ford Models, which he calls a “Classic agency that needed a facelift.” Working as both agent and photographer gives him a unique perspective on the way models operate in both contexts, he says: “Models are good at selling a product but when it comes to doing a photograph not related to selling a product they aren’t very good. They are not really taught about feeling or emoting. Visually, Enrique is great looking but mentally he was very in tune with this project.”