For its 23rd edition, the world’s number one photography fair has brought together no less than 180 galleries from 31 countries showcasing a total of 1,100 artists. It can be hard to navigate through such an abundance of offerings, which is why Blind is here to help you make a (subjective) selection of work you won’t want to miss.
Two historic figures
Paris Photo’s aim is to provide a complete overview of the international photography scene. As such, you’ll find newer galleries next to legendary ones, which opened over thirty years ago, at a time when photography galleries didn’t exist yet.
Among them is the Gagosian Gallery. Launched in the 1980s, it is probably one of the most famous galleries in the world and it represents living and dead artists of global renown. This year, it teamed up with French gallery 1900-2000 to present an exhibition devoted exclusively to Man Ray, a major figure in the surrealist photography scene of the 20s and 30s. Obsessed with the desire to thwart the camera’s ability to provide an accurate representation of the world, he developed new photographic techniques. His “solarizations” and his “rayograms” enabled him to create images that were fascinating in their strangeness and uniqueness while also reproducing a certain image of reality.
At Hauser & Wirthk, work by German photographer August Sander will be on display. A contemporary of Man Ray, he spent his whole life trying to capture an image of the society of his country and his time. As such, he created an incredible gallery of portraits, a kind of sociological inventory of the human types, social classes and trades of his time.
Sensitive to current environmental changes, many photographers are exploring this major genre. The French gallery Maubert is showcasing works by Nicolas Floc’h and Eric Gugliemi, two documentary photographers who share a taste for black and white and wild landscapes.
Nicolas Floc’h created his series of underwater photographs titled Productive Landscapes in Brittany. This photographic study of natural habitats offers up images in which the flora, carried away by the flow of currents, creates wild landscapes that alternately bring to mind plains and lush forests. The forest motif is echoed by with the work of Eric Gugliemi, who recently started a project on the rainforest of the Congo Basin, which is threatened by overexploitation. He brought back five platinum-palladium prints from his fist trip, whose sharpness and iridescent effects produced via emulsion with iron oxide give the image fascinating material effects.
On the walls of the New York-based Jackson Gallery, you can admire the strange aquatic prints of Meghann Riepenhoff. Another artist fascinated by ancient techniques, she creates cyanotypes without a camera. After emulsified large leaves, she dips her virgin canvases directly in the ocean and thus captures the singular and changing imprints of the sun, salt and water: experimental photography like that of Terri Loewenthal, who creates a sublimated and psychedelic vision of Californian landscapes.
Fun new stuff from emerging artists
Inaugurated in 2018, the Curiosa part of the show is devoted to emerging photographers this year. Entrusted to the Anglo-Ghanaian exhibition curator Osei Bonsu, the selection highlights approaches that play with the very definition of photography, as if the advent of the internet and social media had shaken conventions and forced artists to invent new ways to take photos.
Brazil-based French photographer Elsa Leydier mixes idyllic images of Brazil found on Google with hate speech uttered by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. These sentences, directly inserted into the code of the image, alter the integrity of that image by creating glitches and breaks in it. A subtle way to highlight the flaws of the current system.
As for Marie Clerel, she turns her gaze upwards. Every day for a year, the photographer set up a sheet of paper sensitive to the sun’s rays and waited for the light to leave its mark on it. Over the course of days and seasons, we go from the purest blue to pale shades of gray, hinting at the weather of these moving paintings of time.
The group show Fragments
Lastly, if you don’t have the time to make your way through the entire fair, you might want to head straight for the Balcon d’honneur on Level 1 to visit the exhibit Fragments, which brings together some of the most beautiful images from the Fondation A Stitching, by artists such as Lewis Baltz, Larry Sultan, Guido Guidi, Cesare Fabbri, Max Regenberg and others. The exhibit juxtaposes the photographic gaze of yesterday and today to reflect on the notion of an over-abundance of images in today’s world.
By Coline Olsina
PARIS PHOTO 2019
November 7 – 10, 2019
Grand Palais, 3 Avenue du Général Eisenhower, 75008 Paris