What is nature? What is photography? And what links do they have with architecture? Every year, Chaumont-Photo-sur-Loire provides unexpected answers to these questions. Answers that are neither learned nor theoretical, but sensory. Images of nature that reveal their share of secrets about the subjects photographed, the people behind the camera, and the medium itself.
This sixth edition of Chaumont-Photo-sur-Loire brings together six artists whose attraction to nature has turned them into poets and magicians. Whether they’ve chosen to observe it in detail or embrace entire landscapes, they don’t expatiate on it but rather stand back, capturing moments in time to share with us. Lacking any context, the images speak for themselves.
With no landmarks to guide it, the eye comes into its own while the mind is overcome with curiosity. What is it looking at? Seeds that might be jewels, seaweed that might be ivy, architectures that might be landscapes. When the sky merges into the sea and trees are outlined against a white horizon. Poetry is the unbreakable thread that leads the eye from one work to the next, from one artist to another.
Although every edition of Chaumont-Photo-sur-Loire provides us with an opportunity to draw visitors’ attention to nature’s precious yet fragile character, this sixth edition is deliberately more silent and meditative, qualities conducive to arousing wonder rather than awareness, so deeply are we convinced that our society has need of beauty and tranquillity.
In the Château’s Upper Galleries, Éric Poitevin presents a selection of undergrowth, trees and dried plants. This great French artist, who uses photography to revisit art history’s various genres (portrait, landscape, still life and nude), is unequalled in his ability to capture the moment and engage in dialogue with visitors.
In a very different register, the no less renowned Korean photographer Bae Bien-U is once again exhibiting his magnificent landscapes at the Domain of Chaumont-sur-Loire. Known in France for his mysterious forests captured in close-up, he presents the vast expanses of his Orum series, images of volcanic hills that could almost be paintings.
Still inside the Château, the photographer with triple citizenship (Canadian, Italian and Serb) Ljubodrag Andric fills the Upper Galleries with images of architecture that seems to have been taken over by nature. Completely decontextualised enigmas of matter and light, echoes of times gone by.
The Graubaum und Himmelmeer (Greytree and Heavensea) series exhibited by Loredana Nemes is also a captivating experience. Enthralled by Rügen, the largest of the German islands in the Baltic Sea, the Romanian-born artist brings her own sense of wonder alive for us in depictions of its breathtaking landscapes. On display in the Donkey Stables, her photographs are composed like paintings, highlighting the majestic cycle of the seasons.
Nicolas Floc’h invites us on another equally remarkable journey. In the Agnès Varda Courtyard, the French artist presents his Initium Maris, a selection of images of luxuriant underwater forests created in Brittany. In contrast to the underwater iconography we’re used to, his splendid black and white photographs introduce their beholders to the little-known wonders of the oceans, while acting as spurs to the imagination.
To close this 6th edition of Chaumont-Photo-sur-Loire, we hope to surprise you once again with an outstanding series created by Thierry Ardouin. Since 2009, the French photographer has been focusing on the world of seeds. The result of extremely delicate preparation and long exposure time, each image is an extraordinary discovery of one of them. Whereby beauty seeds the world.
Curator of Chaumont-Photo-sur-Loire