This fifth edition of Chaumont-Photo-sur-Loire brings together four artists whose love of nature has honed their patience, whether they decided to consider it as a mental construct by focusing on the landscape as a whole or as the sum of infinitely unique parts by collecting samples in the natural environment.
Some of these images are wide-angle shots while others crystallise around a single detail, providing the beholder with a sometimes macroscopic sometimes microscopic vision of a mountain or flower.
Seen through the prism of photography, nature is set within a frame, much like a painting in many respects. Working in the same way as a painter, the photographer selects a piece of reality in order to idealise it or turn it into fiction, playing on colours, concealing the setting and anything that might serve to date their image... Whenever memory becomes hazy, the imagination takes wing.
Chaumont-sur-Loire’s regular visitors are well aware of the Domain’s commitment to beauty and the respect due to nature. Each edition of Chaumont-Photo-sur-Loire is therefore an opportunity to draw everyone’s’ attention to the preciousness of our natural environment, while celebrating outstanding photographic practices.
Such respect is a major component of Michael Kenna’s body of work. This internationally renowned photographer rejects the term “take”, emphasising the “give” aspects of his work instead, harvesting (so to speak) what nature so generously offers. His images draw in the landscapes that he introduces us to, always in the same small format. An unapologetic observer, he came to the Domain’s Historic Grounds to complete the series of trees set to be presented in the Château.
In a very different register, Denis Brihat’s imposing flowers, fruits and natural details transfix us. They emerge from their white backgrounds like apparitions, breaking free of any natural environment. Scarcely recognisable, they strike poses, aware, living sitters. A true artist fully committed to his art and a great teacher, Denis Brihat creates “photographic paintings”, fruits of a quest that is both aesthetic and philosophical. They will be exhibited in the Agnès Varda Courtyard.
The images created by Éric Bourret are also highly individual. They come from two series, one being Arbos, on exhibition for the first time and taken during his walks along the banks of the Loire, and the other entitled Primary Forest, photographed during his explorations of the Macaronesian Islands and the primary forests of China and Finland. If the photographer roams the planet for months on end, it is in order to better capture the movement of each region he explores. As he likes to say, “Photo walks make the experience of the landscape crossed visible”. Each of his images encapsulates a physical experience, that of an eye and a body accompanying the slow but inexorable turning of the Earth. His large-format photographs are set to be presented in the Château.
FLORE’s photographs will be on exhibition in the Donkey Stables, lit by a majestic chandelier. A setting conducive to fiction was required to host L’odeur de la nuit était celle du jasmin (The Scent of the Night Was that of Jasmine). Like pages escaped from a travel journal, these waxed, tea-tinted black-and-white prints are an invitation to set off on the trail of the young Marguerite Duras in Indochina. For the photographer, capturing an image is only a step in the process. Then comes the search for a texture, a desired haziness, a depth of blackness. Work on memory merges with work on materials.
Time and silence reign at the intersection of these four worlds. A plural time – suspended or recovered, captured or in action – and a single silence, a silence of life. Two photographic ingredients that provide the beauties of nature with an opportunity to let themselves be contemplated.
Curator of Chaumont-Photo-sur-Loire