June 29, 2013

Simen Johan - And nothing was to be trusted

This photograph from Norway and living in the US is one of the greatest artist of our times and I posted previously 2 series from him (here). Here's an older one, in black & white and using photomanipulation in an intelligent and creative way. These pictures raise a real "malaise". Sad he now mainly shoots animals. His site here.

June 24, 2013

Gérard Rancinan - Various works

Gérard Rancinan, born in 1953 in Bordeaux, is one of the most famous (and expensive) French photograph. He plays with symbols in a more American than French tradition creating iconic portraits of our vulgar civilisation. His visual imagery is a little bit too much "fashion-world" for me and his semantics sometimes trivial, but I can't deny there a strength often lacking in photography. Some of his images leave a deep wound in our cultural representation and feed our lucidity about this mercantile world. He has currently 2 exhibitions, one in Cannes (France) and one in Bratislava (Slovak Republic). Strange that the latter is announced everywhere in my home area. And I live in Paris, not in Bratislava. If someone could explain. His site here.

June 22, 2013

Maurizio Cattelan - Retired but never tired

This post as an hommage to Maurizio Cattelan, one of the most provocative and interesting (not synonymous) artist of the last half century, who claimed he was retiring although he was expected in a large exhibition about him in Bâle, Switzerland. He only sent a work called Kaputt (see above, it's the 5 stuffed horses back nailed as trophies on a wall). Of course it's not photography art per se but it provides great images so it fits with scoptophilia. And many consider some of his work pornographic although there's not much nudity or sex in it. I also added ancient works based this time on photography.  Cattelan questions our relation to modern myths and triggers laughs or ta least smiles that possess the singular quality to open our eyes on our own credulity. Hope he'll do some more even if retires cos, as the title of the post states, he seemed not to be artistically tired (eg. his last exhibition in Warsaw).

June 15, 2013

Renan Polles - Vanitas vanitatum

Renan Polles, born in 1943, is a famous French director of photography who worked with rather notorious movie directors such as Jean Eustache, Jacques Doillon, Romain Goupil and Pascal Thomas. He even was the DP on Jean Rollin's Requiem for a vampire. But he also has his individual artistic path (see his blog here) and this recent series, called Vanitas vanitatum is stunning and had absolutely to feature on this blog. It's a variation around the vanities concept with skulls placed in symbolic arrangements with a various underlying semantics. There's also a bunch of simpler works (the last pictures of the selection above) with a strong macabre and finally humouristic visual perfume. Since this exhibition started only yesterday, I encourage everyone living in or near Paris, or any foreigner visiting Paris, to have a jump in the place (here) just near Place Clichy and to stay a while in the strange atmosphere created by these picturial creations. Maybe THE man will be here too. He was today and he's kind and friendly. More on the gallery site here.

Julia Fullerton-Batten - Unadorned

This German photographer met success with very spectacular series using photo manipulations, not my fave way to approach this media, but I must recognize she always proposes something that avoids the usual emptiness of all these modern artists who find a so-called impressive, fantastic, unique, never-seen way to create visual effets ("so what?" I often think looking at their technical "tour-de-force" or sometimes only good ideas that turn into gimmicks). Here, she's much more naturalistic in her way to treat her subject. It consists in an aesthetic and valorising view of unusual models. Here what she says about it: "Here I was inspired by paintings of old masters from the 15th to 17th Century (Titian to Rubens). Over a period of three centuries, these masters showed that female beauty of that time was represented by curvaceous bodies and in Rubens’ case by outright corpulence. It is only in very recent times, since Twiggy and Barbie came to the fore in the 1960s, that our narcissistic society reinforced by the media and advertising now interprets the ideal figure to be ultra-thin. I guess in my work I am making social observations as well as fine-art". I'm not sure she doesn't oversimplify the history of beauty canons (actually I know a little bit the subject). Moreover, the result a little bit too much inspired by the stunning and extraordinary series by Jeff Bark (he got 4 posts on Scoptophilia, but I'm talking more specifically of this one). But, besides these critics, the series is good enough to deserve respect and be welcomed as a great piece of photo-art. Fullerton-Batten site here.