In the early 2000s Ronan Guillou started his first personal photographic investigations of American urban spaces, conducted alongside his fashion and advertising commissions. The United States gradually became Ronan’s main subject and has led to a real odyssey in colour across America in this new millennium. Avid of experience, the photographer allows luck and chance encounters to direct his narrative, probing and observing this fascinating country where fiction and reality are uniquely bound.
Structured by both documentary intent and exploration of form, Ronan’s images express an affinity with the American iconographic tradition, of which he offers a personal reinterpretation forged during numerous and lengthy travels.
Ronan Guillou has been nominated in 2009 at the Prix HSBC pour la Photographie, in 2008 at the Prix Nièpce and laureate in 2007 of the Biennale des Agents Associés at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.
Since 2005, Ronan’s work has been shown in personal and collective exhibitions in France and the United States.
Ronan Guillou was born in 1968 in Bouar (Central African Republic), he lives and works in Paris.
Angel - Editions Trans Photographic Press, préface de Wim Wenders.
ISBN : 978-291-3176-911
An Angel Passing... By Wim Wenders
What does happen when “the angel passes” (proverbial or not)
and gives us (a yet undefined) visual cue
to notice how special that moment is
so that we have the instinct to share it?
As a fellow photographer I know:
in that split second of recognizing the signal
and of noticing his (her, its) presence, occurrence, incidence
(- or maybe the opposite: his, her or its sudden absence! -)
wanting to take a picture happens simultaneously
with raising the camera to the eyes
and pressing the release button, all at that same moment.
You become part of a short ecstatic flash,
- or call it a glimpse of grace -
your eyes are guided, “remote-controlled”,
you don’t think much,
you don’t even look for the frame:
Ronan Guillou is one of the few photographers I know
(well, not personally, yet)
with the eye (and the inner ear) for those highly ephemeral instants.
I indeed see “the angel passing” in many of his pictures.
I was smiling a lot, to begin with,
when I tried to immerse into the world of these photographs.
They make you smile…
They don’t ask you for it, though. (Which is a big difference!)
They let you share these moments of grace
very much like that person whispering “an angel is passing…”
You stare at these pictures like into a momentary silence
and you might feel that slight shudder for a second.
What I love about the photographs of Ronan Guillou in this book:
all these pictures are found.
They are all made on the spur of the moment.
They are not manipulated or “worked on”.
They are dripping with reality.
What a relief!
I can’t help feeling
that “finding” has become a more creative process that “inventing”.
(I know I maintain this idea against a current trend in photography.)
You don’t just find, because you’re lucky.
You have to search first.
And you have to know where to search.
And when to see what you were searching for.
And then, if you are lucky,
(and if you followed the angel’s hints)
you come up with pictures that you can consider “gifts”.
They have been given to you, presented to you,
and you can pass them on again as presents.
Thus the viewer is included in the grace of each moment,
and doesn’t have to stand in awe of your creativity.
You invite him to share the moment of the angel passing…
Ronan was finding (and looking) in America,
and that’s why his collection of precious gifts
means even more to me.
The United States are a difficult territory for photographers
(especially European ones),
because they’re such a minefield of déjà-vus.
I can safely say this
as somebody who has found himself in that danger only too often.
Ronan escaped (most of) these traps.
The Americans looking at him in these photographs
(and at you now)
were all seen
through the crack that Leonard Cohen is referring to,
so that the angel of photography could shed some light on them…
I thank the angel for passing.
And Ronan for noticing
and whispering to us…