JOEL-PETER WITKINS’ exhibition is composed of old and recent photos, and addresses various themes. The large formats in black and white, in the artist’s usual still-life style: a sophisticated setting, beautifully painted backgrounds and his favourite props: mummified heads or severed limbs, obtained by some obscure means. These photos catch the eye immediately with their well-balanced compositions and the elegant luminosity of the black and white. With a closer look the traditional techniques used by the artist appear: collage, scratching, and drawing, directly on to the negative.
There are photos in colours as beautiful as the black and white pictures. For this series, a work for order based on the hats theme, the artist used his fondness and knowledge of history of the arts. Each photo is inspired by a specific painter or work of art: HOPPER, REMBRANDT, PICASSO,... the VENUS DE MILO.
Some photos take on a more openly political or social tone, such as Witkins' vision of GERICAULT’S the raft of the medusa, the successfully effective the raft of Bush, or his self-portrait as a clown. A few sketches are exposed, giving some hindsight to the apparently very meticulous preparation of each shot.
Even though some images may be considered as shocking, it is very likely, as JOEL-PETER WITKIN himself puts it, that his style may well have become an aesthetic reference in contemporary photography.
Report Sabine Morandini
BAUDOIN LEBON GALLERY
38 rue ste croix de la bretonnerie