Arles in Paris, part 1
Chuck Kelton & Jean-Pierre Sudre
Experimental Photography, a dialogue
7 September- 3 October
For those who couldn't make it to the gallery's Arles pop-up show last July, produced in collaboration with quand les fleurs nous sauvent gallery, please join us in Paris in September/October to discover a selection of these beautiful works. The fall exhibition will unfold in two chapters and also include several new pieces not shown in Arles. Each exhibition chapter features a major contemporary artist in dialogue with a major historical artist, in the fields of experimental and still life photography.
A new selection of recent photogram-chemigrams, all unique, by Chuck Kelton (1952, USA) will be presented in dialogue with vintage experimental works by Jean-Pierre Sudre (1921-1997, French), from his series 'M + V, Matière et Végétal'. A key historical figure in French photography, Jean-Pierre Sudre was also one of the founders, in the 1970s, of the Rencontres d'Arles festival.
Chuck Kelton makes unique, camera-less photographs, working in full daylight outside of the darkroom and spending weeks, sometimes months, sketching and preparing each work. A master printer, Kelton is also a passionate collector of photographs, practical manuals and tools from the history of photography. He explores 19th century techniques and chemistry such as gold chloride and selenium, that he combines with bleach and developer to coax a lush palette of colours from light sensitive, traditional silver gelatin papers. Describing his approach as "calligraphy with chemistry", Chuck Kelton combines chemogram and photogram techniques: the image in a photogram is the result of exposing photographic paper to light — writing with light — whereas the image in a chemogram is the outcome of exposing photographic paper to developer and fixer — writing with chemistry. Kelton often folds the paper in two - a trangressive act in photography - creating a visual break that is understood by the viewer as a horizon line creating depth of field in the artist's misty palette.
Jean-Pierre Sudre worked notably with contrasting, vibrant blacks and whites to magnify everyday objects thanks to the "power of transposing colours into monochromatic tones". He undertook broad experimentation with darkroom process, in particular the chemical process of mordanting, which fixes color dye to the support through a chemical process that gives a particular depth to the tones. Describing himself as a poet, Jean-Pierre Sudre metamorphosed objects through a photography of detail where the anecdotal becomes the essence of the subject. This quest is felt in various series from his "natures mortes” to his later "M+V" [mineral + vegetal] series.
"For the M+V series, having photographed a lot of the plant world [...], I approached things from within this mystery of nature, at the foot of trees, mosses...it was a travelling shot of these very things on which we walk and which are of a great beauty"
Jean- Pierre Sudre to Jean-Claude Gautrand in an interview for the MEP in 1994