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The City, Seen Through the Eyes of Alexis Duclos

“Paris is a populated solitude,” wrote François Mauriac. Alexis Duclos turns this solitude into art. In his latest project, “En Ville!”, on view at the Galerie Durev through October 10, he shares the portrait of a poetic and unexpected Paris.

“The city is civilization. It’s the place of all possibilities,” says photographer Alexis Duclos. “In the city, there is just the city dweller lost in the middle of the immense urbanity. So to photograph it, the ingredients are: space, light, architecture, people and luck… “

While a photographer with the Associated Press for 4 years, Duclos produced more than 2,000 photographic reports. Today, he’s traded photojournalism for a stroll through Paris, capturing spontaneous snapshots with humor and emotion as he focuses his gaze on the capital. For indeed, the city itself takes center stage in this series. Luxury, fashion, museums, theatres, cinemas, restaurants…. Like an urban poem, it reveals itself and awakens our imagination.

Gravity. At this hour, the light of the West comforts the stone columns. A man flirts with the void © Alexis Duclos
Gravity. At this hour, the western light comforts the stone columns. A man flirts with emptiness. © Alexis Duclos

Playing with shadows in the City of Light

Perspective, silhouettes, symmetry, contrasts and the perfect mastery of shadows are the tools the photographer uses to capture the beauty of the city. Showcasing the elegance of black and white, he pays careful attention to structure, shapes and moods. It’s all a matter of contrast and rupture. In the city, nothing moves. It’s nothing but big, inert walls inert and cobblestones. The endless lines of facades embrace the sky. The photographer creates a geometrically regular city.

Whether it’s down streets with varying degrees of traffic, along avenues lined with shops, or at the local public swimming pool, he invites us to stroll along with him. We walk through the city to the rhythm of passers-by, constantly in motion. Because in its motionless framework, the people walking are active and busy. They dance, they kiss, they swim. They ride through the streets on public bikes, the wind in their hair.

Stolen moments, unusual moments and everyday scenes are joyfully re-appropriated. In Alexis Duclos’ Paris, the seagulls watch over the children in the park, and the ghost of the Louvre nestles under Christo’s Arc de Triomphe. The photographer becomes a magician. Playing with different angles, he makes the passengers of a merry-go-round fly over the roofs of Paris. Suspended in the void, they nearly merge with the birds. The city is free and liberating. Humanity finds its place again in this framework that is a little too set.

Carousel Sometimes a ride on a merry-go-round can send you over the roofs of Paris! Alexis Duclos
Carousel …Sometimes a merry round sends you flying over the rooftops of Paris! © Alexis Duclos
The seagulls
The seagulls © Alexis Duclos
Vélocipède Le rendez-vous est urgent !
City bike. Must hurry to my appointment! © Alexis Duclos
Allegory Under Christo's Arc de Triomphe, I catch a glimpse of Belphegor's face. Alexis Duclos
Allegory. Under Christo’s Arc de Triomphe, I can see the face of Belphegor. © Alexis Duclos

A nod to the unexpected

“Light takes over the street, then bounces off the walls to splash the fleeing shadows. The city dresses in white to take the newlyweds in its arms and puts on grey makeup to greet a passing black cat. Shooting in the city means never planning anything, but respectfully attempting to seduce chance.” writes Alexis Duclos. The shutter-release button is like gunfire. It’s all about the “right time” to pull the trigger. 
A look at the photo of newlyweds climbing the steps of the banks of the Seine, and the first notes of “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin ring in our ears. Photography is no longer just an image, it becomes a story. As stated so well by historian Fabrice d’Almeida: “Alexis Duclos’ city carries our memory. It turns it into an object of art.”

"Stairway to Heaven" The city dresses in white to wrap the newlyweds
“Stairway to Heaven”. The city dresses in white to take the newlyweds in its arms © Alexis Duclos
The shadows The light takes over the street, then bounces off the walls to dazzle the fleeing shadows.
Shadows. Light takes over the street, then bounces off the walls to splash the fleeing shadows. © Alexis Duclos

« En Ville ! » On view through October 10, 2022
Tuesday through Saturday 10AM to 7PM.
Sunday and Monday by appointment only.
Galerie DUREV – 56 boulevard de la Tour Maubourg 75007 Paris.

Contact : Agnès VERGEZ / BITL Agency
Tel. +33 (0)6 08 69 00 24

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