It’s if he were losing his touch, felt embarrassed or small… It’s if he were unable to come too close and was compelled to merely brush past their bodies with the restraint of a discreet, modest man… The women photographed by Édouard Boubat are like apparitions rising with the dawn, blossoming in the company of flowering trees, or out having a good time by a river that trails off into the distance. In the photographer’s work, the woman becomes a myth, elevated to the status of an icon. She is a sensitive plate that registers exquisite reveries. This is true of the lady with windblown hair poised on the bank of the Seine in Paris. She stands draped in a mane of hair that quite literally swallows up her face, forming a strange mask: an airy specter on a sunny day. “He loved long-haired women. He asked me to introduce him to ladies with long hair,” recalls Agathe Gaillard. His photographs are populated with heads of hair, sometimes dancing, sometimes shrouding the place, sometimes hiding a countenance.
“The model–photographer relationship is sometimes nearly a confrontation. … One must withstand the unavoidable ordeal of forced intimacy in front of the lens. Behind his camera, the photographer must make himself acceptable,” wrote Édouard Boubat in his book La Photographie. With women, he seems to have made himself invisible, surreptitiously catching their finesse and beauty, as for example this lady in a hat walking through a field of sunflowers. Or the one standing on a broken-down boat by the river: she is hiding and as she turns away from the camera, we can glimpse the outline of her breast—chaste eroticism that testifies to the photographer’s purity. Nudity in his work is often barely touched upon and elegance always celebrated. Édouard Boubat also says: “Every skin texture is like a silver crystal. The body is a song of light. It is iridescent like water.” With women, he seems to have pushed this formula to its limit.
By Jean-Baptiste Gauvin
Edouard Boubat, Romantique
From March 29 to May 11, 2019
Galerie Agathe Gaillard, 3, Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe, 75004 Paris