What better way to celebrate November, the month of photography in France, than with the largest international fine art photography fair? The 18th Edition of Paris Photo showcases carefully curated photographs from 143 international galleries in 35 different countries. In addition, art book dealers and publishers will colour the scene with a blend of contemporary and historic works, embracing the inexhaustible medium of photography. Paris Photo, held in the Grand Palais in Paris, is an exceptional opportunity to uncover some of the most notable photography, from the 19th Century to now.
For the first time, Paris Photo welcomes two important exhibitions: The Museum of Modern Art (New York), which will present a selection of their program of Recent Acquisitions (2013-2014), and the Private Collection of The Alkazi Collection of Photography, with fastidiously staged and decorated painted photographs from India and Southern Asia.
As you weave in and out of the grid of galleries, a dark array of imagery emerges from the white walls. Perhaps one of the most startling series is Marwane Pallas’ haunting portraits. Eve in the Making, 2013 depicts a nude male embracing the head of a statue. A ruby red gash juxtaposes his stone white skin. In another image, blood trickles out of a man’s nose and into a wine glass.
Likewise, Eric Poitevin’s minimalism in nude portraiture dictates a story of life and death. In one image, a woman’s penetrating stare breaks through her wet and tangled hair, while another photograph showcases a bleeding deer on its side. No matter if these photos stand alone or side by side with other images, the underlying sombre narrative is woven throughout.
Paris Photo touches on the Japanese artists from the concrete churches of Tadao Ando to the erotically crushed fruit of Noboyushi Araki. Images of empty spaces and the deconstruction of buildings are prominent throughout the exhibition. South African photographer Pieter Hugo captures a multitude of portraits, focusing on the rawness of skin and the piercing white around the eyes. Then, from the Swiss galleries, we experience the calm in mountains and endless snow.
This year, the totality of imagery pushes observers to reflect on simplicity and the emotions that arrive when a subject modestly looks to the camera. How do we feel when we experience Robert Longo’s bodies captured in mid-motion, or the faded photographs of Laurent Pernot? What do we identify when looking at the backs of the many women lensed by Shun-Chu Chen? Paris Photo appears to express that there is more impact in minimalism. There may even be something tragic about it.
Not all is gloomy, though. We witness the colourful photos of David LaChapelle and graphic, imaginative shapes from Liz Nielsen. A common occurrence is abstract objects and shapes, reminiscent of painterly tableaus. In the digital age of photography, a mélange of mediums is being used to create new and exciting encounters with art. Christian Patterson captured all the separate pieces that make up an ordinary telephone in one frame, and placed a complete, ringing phone just under it. The construction and deconstruction of elements allow viewers to see what is behind everyday objects, and perhaps allude to how we mentally break things down to understand it.
Galerie Paris-Beijing brings us the censored images of China, sparking debate on politics and freedom of speech. One of their photographers, who is equally exposed at the Three Shadows +3 Beijing Gallery, is rising star Ren Hang. The Chinese artist is not a photographer per say, but more of an image-maker in how he deconstructs the human body and reconstructs it with a myriad of limbs and torsos. He is strongest with multiple bodies: the valleys and hills of breasts and waists, or five nude girls whose hands cup the faces of their neighbors. Some may consider Ren Hang’s approach radical and technically lacklustre, but the artist has endless ideas on how to manipulate the one thing we all share: pure human form.
Be sure to check out The Photobook Awards, The Platform, an experimental forum for discussion and debate, and SFR Jeunes Talents, a section designated for young emerging photographers.
Some of the most renowned photographers will be available for book signings. These artists include, but are not limited to, Martin Parr, Erwin Olaf, Raymond Depardon, Antoine D’Agata, Pieter Hugo, William Klein, Stephane Coutelle, Bettina Rheims, Kourtney Roy, Roger Ballen, and Stéphane Sednaoui.
If you couldn’t make it to Paris Photo this time, don’t worry. The art fair is headed to Los Angeles from May 1 – May 3, 2015.
For more info click here.
Words / Sheri Chiu