Cheyco Leidmann's Eroticism

On Cheyco Leidmann's (Disturbing Yet Inspiring) Neon Eroticism When I was a young girl it wasn’t so rare to find Cheyco Leidmann’s images in many different Italian publications. His work was indeed published on art, lifestyle, fashion and photography magazines. There were occasional images of American landscapes and neon signs, swimming pools and secluded beaches, hotel and motel buildings, bits and pieces of shiny pink Cadillacs and models leaning against them, yet the most popular photographs you were most likely to stumble upon featured details of the body of models clad in brightly colourful leggings, bodysuits and miniskirts and wearing vertiginous stilettos.
I was obviously too young to read the aggressively erotic message behind those images, in fact I think I was more mesmerised by the vivid shades of the miniskirts, the oversized polka dots, the black and yellow painted hands of a model highlighted on an electric blue background or the detail of a model's ear painted in blood red and decorated with tribal black dots.The images went along well with the sort of aesthetic that was in fashion at the time (for example Fiorucci’s, even though the latter was obviously more toned down) and they fascinated me for their eye-grabbing visual power, for thseir neon colours that clashed one with the other, hitting the retina, sparking your imagination.
It was only after I grew up that I discovered Leidmann’s more controversial, explicit and disturbing images such as the ones collected in the volume Toxytt.
My early memories of Leidmann’s images made sure I kept on being attracted by his world, even when his visually striking images looked more disturbing than fashionable. In fact Leidmann’s explicitly erotic aggressiveness became rather popular in fashion photography, while some of the garments featured in his images – think about the bright yellow, aqua green or red PVC and latex suits, skirts and leggings – became a constant obsession of many stylists.
In the 1980s Leidmann claimed fashion photography in Europe was lying in a critical condition and things were even worse in the States where the financial crisis had made things even harder. According to him not many photographers felt like risking their career to create innovative images and ended up producing safe pictures often inspired by the more iconic photographers of the past. After spawning designers who had brought innovation into fashion, Leidmann claimed at the time, Japan would have led a genuine revolution in photography. The revolution in the end came from different countries, with many visual artists and photographers creating thought-provoking and strong images.
Yet even in our times that offer us all the possibility of taking pictures characterised by a powerful rainbow-like chromatic scale, a magic box of digital crayons, I often struggle to find that perfectly balanced degree of inspiring sentimental and garish neon coloured eroticism that early fashion images shot by Leidmann still manage to retain. Anna Battista