Denis Brihat, Photographs 1958-2011
Denis Brihat, Photographies 1958-2011, an exhibition on display at the Campredon, Centre d’Art of l’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue until February 4, 2012, could be considered a retrospective designed to travel through France and Europe. In reality, even if one recognizes a certain respect for the chronology of his creations, it is more of a meandering through his works, a selection made with the author and Pierre-Jean Amar. An extension of sorts of the exhibition and book released in 2005. But here, the goal is to show through nearly 100 prints the genesis and construction of his work. Years of reporting in India led to the Nièpce Award in 1957 then illustration work. A rupture with his arrival in Bonnieux in 1958, the hard years on the set of Claparèdes and the first black and white “photographic tableaux” clearly designed as wallhangings.
References that would evolve when he discovered the work of Edward Weston and Emmanuel Sougez who would lead him to the infinitesimal, focusing on minute details, slowly observing nature and its rules. Complaining often that Weston had already made the same discoveries. “Taking a long time to look: that is Brihat’s secret” wrote Michel Tournier in “Crépuscule des Masques”.
The exhibition shows the research, or better yet, the progressive discovery of nature’s inherent equilibrium. From the “window squashed by buttocks” to the crack of a Prassinos painting, to a field of flowering cherry trees, moving into an increasingly small world, nearly macroscopic, more mysterious, more poetic too. Plunging into the infinitely small with infinite resources. Afer 50 years, is Denis Brihat still not exploring the hidden mysteries of an onion or a poppy flower?
The exhibition follows his work path. We naturally discover his emblematic series including the lemon in 1963, or his legendary pictures of a pear in 1972. But, like Diane Arbus currently on display at the Jeu de Paume, this exhibition shows us how his technical choices influenced his esthetics. The use of larger negatives to eliminate the grain, and a square frame to better isolate the subject from its context for her, seeking the most adequate final result adapted to the objects photographed for Denis Brihat.
A perfectionist, from the print to the frame, without forgetting shelf life, who would paint three layers of homemade wax onto prints designed to hang permanently on the wall to protect them from overexposure to ambient light. One of the first reasons that would lead him to switch from silver salts, highly reactive in light, to other metallic salts less volatile in bright conditions.
But the main reason is elsewhere. Denis Brihat wanted color. Not manufactured colors with unpredictable longevity. The exhibition demonstrates his research progress, featuring extraordinary solid colors from room to room, from red poppies to black tulips. Selenium, vanadium, iron or antimony blended with oxidations, sulfurizations or photo engravings, partial or not, a term as vague as “grignotage” whose results provided a print with a real third dimension. As the galleries in Paris seemed to have passed up the opportunity to show his work, those who expect to travel near Avignon would be inspired to make this detour.
Until February 4, 2012
CAMPREDON Centre d’Art
20, rue du Docteur Tallet
84 801 L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue
Tuesday through Saturday
10am-12:30pm and 2pm to 5:30pm
Closed November 1 and 11
Denis Brihat, Éclats d'infini
Text by Georges Monti
Edition Le Temps qu’il fait
"En photographiant je suis devenu photographe"
Film de 26' réalisé par Pierre-Jean Amar en 2011