The Portraits of Didier Gicquel
By Ashley Knight
A photograph immortalizes an instant in life, a moment frozen for all eternity that will not only be seen, but also interpreted, by all who stand before it. Legendary French literary theorist Roland Barthes noted a small demise in each photograph-the act of capturing an unrepeatable moment with a lens - viewing photography as a wisely structured ritual that paradoxically seeks to preserve life and memory. Lelia Mordoch Gallery recently exhibited a selection of photographs by the French artist Didier Gicquel (Auray, 1952) at its Miami location. In this exposition, Gicquel, who currently resides in Vincennes, presented a vast portfolio of his already-famous photos of celebrities.
At the urging of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Peter Knapp and Paul Facchetti, Gicquel first photographed artists in 1979, and he has not stopped since. Convinced of the necessity of going beyond the walls of his photographic studio, he prefers to invade the privacy of those he photographs in order to capture genuine snapshots of their daily lives. He currently has to his credit more than 1,500 visits to studios, and his photographs have been published in more than 200 monographs and magazines. Accompanied by his ever-present Leica camera, Gicquel has immortalized unique moments in the lives of painters, sculptors, filmmakers, musicians, actors and authors.
The exhibition at the Lelia Mordoch Gallery presents us with a selection of excellent snapshots, including Yayoi Kusama rowing her phallic boat; Michelangelo Pistoletto posing seriously before the lens; Lee Ufan immersed in one of his mystic installations; Corneille, embracing his model, Victoria; Douglas Gordon behind wisps of cigar smoke; Arman, peeking out from behind one of his sculptures; the inseparable Gilbert and George riding the same bicycle; Araki next to a disturbing plastic dinosaur; and the philosopher Pierre Restany, founder of New Realism, posing next to a group of half-naked girls. Other include Cartier-Bresson appearing to cover his face with his hand when faced with the impertinent lens of the photographer who surprises him when he turns the corner; Pete Doherty posing with his musicians; Patti Smith rolling a suitcase; Francis Ford Coppola looking at us from a Parisian cafe; and Johnny Depp surprised before a painting by Robert Guinan.
Each photograph is evidence of an encounter; each one exudes an impressive psychological intensity that allows the viewer to approach and explore the private life of the subject. As an ensemble, the photographs weave together a collection of precious moments that speak of friendship, trust and kinship. Nowadays, with the Internet and social media networks having blurred the boundaries between the public and the private, when we want to know about the lives of celebrities on a daily basis, and when any neighbor’s child can become famous on Facebook, Youtube or Twitter, Gicquel’s photos reveal themselves to be open books, thresholds through which to gain access to the interests, private lives and fantasies of famous and unattainable figures whom until now, we have only seen on television or movie screens, the pages of books and magazines or covers of music albums.
For more information about Didier Gicquel visit Lelia Mordoch Gallery. 2300 North Miami Ave. Miami Wynwood Arts District, 33127. Phone 786 431 1506 / www.galerieleliamordoch.com