First Chinese solo exhibition by French photographer and filmmaker
Raymond Depardon is having his first solo exhibition in China "La vie moderne" (Modern Life) at the Power Station of Art with the backing of the Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain. A French photographer and filmmaker, Depardon has profoundly redefined the world of contemporary photography since the 1970s.
Showcasing about 100 photographs and one feature film, the exhibition shares the approach of the artist whose visual language is simple and often straight, keeping the subject in a central position.
Always searching for the right distance, Depardon builds relationships between people and places. He listens and gives others a chance to speak, and projects a humanistic view of the world.
Borrowing his title from the 2008 film, which concluded the Profils paysans trilogy directed in collaboration with Claudine Nougaret, the La vie moderne exhibition recounts the artist's attachment to the rural world and gives an contemporary insight of France, its countryside, peripheral areas, and uneventful places.
It's a vision removed from clichés, or romantic stereotypes of France. A farmer's son, Depardon draws a portrait of the world and of himself. By alternating between black and white and colour, he reinvents landscape photography.
Depardon goes against the photographic style that captures the "decisive moment," a term coined by French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, who believed that there is a precise moment when all of the elements in a scene come together perfectly to create a powerful and meaningful photograph.
When viewing Depardon's photographic works, nothing decisive or important happens. They are all "mundane moments" - landscapes of his parents' farm, the remote rural villages, the daily life of his fellow farmers, and empty town streets.
You can feel the strong emotion in the photos, an emotion mixed with nostalgia, loneliness, empathy, and even sadness, and sometimes happiness.
In the early 1990s, Depardon began photographing the contemporary peasant life in France, focusing on small farms and rural communities with preserved farming methods and lifestyles. They seemed to have deliberately shifted away from modernity.
He drove an old van, alone, on deserted roads, showing great patience and humility during the shooting process to gain the trust and acceptance of local farmers, who were shy, reserved and often lost their attention to the interview. During 15 years, he returned to those farms repeatedly, taking gradual steps in the photographic project, talking and listening to the farmers.
This makes his photography somewhat imbued with strong humanistic concerns. He portrays the world and its people in a truthful, yet empathetic manner.
Dates: Through July 23
Venue: 7/F, Power Station of Art
Address: 678 Miaojiang Rd