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Photography in the spotlight at Chaumont-sur-Loire

Something new this winter, the Chaumont-sur-Loire Arts and Nature Centre in Val de Loire is devoting all of its exhibitions to photography. From  November 19th 2017 to February 28th 2018, the works of seven photographers, each expressing their unique viewpoints on landscape and nature, will be presented across more than two thousand square metres of exhibition space in the castle and in the Farmyard. A special tribute will be paid to two great names in the world of photography who passed away too early: Thibaut Cuisset and Gérard Rondeau.

The Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire will also be hosting France’s first major exhibition devoted to Elger Esser, one of the Düsseldorf School’s prominent photographer. The American photographer Robert Charles Mann and German artist Hanns Zischler, both pinhole-camera enthusiasts, will also be guests at this winter photography festival, alongside Éric Sander and François Méchain.

Singing the praises of wide-open spaces with equally wide shots, Thibaut Cuisset’s landscapes have the power to attract our gaze. The artist preferred the noonday light, when the sun was at its zenith, when “perspectives are flattened”. In his eyes, a successful photograph was “an excess of reality tending towards fiction”. His taste for “cold poetry” illuminates and transcends the views of the Loire as well as the Icelandic landscapes on show at Chaumont-sur-Loire this winter.

Another great lover of travel to faraway places, Gérard Rondeau, although he preferred to focus more on unresolved shadows, knew how to capture the essence of a single instant in his timeless black-and-white images. He liked to play with silence as much as with words. In the same way that he was immediately able to grasp the very depth of a being, he instantly understood the profound reality of a landscape.

While Thibaut Cuisset was inspired by Corot, Cézanne and Richter, the German photographer Elger Esser is closer to romantic painting and claims literary affinities with Proust, Flaubert and Maupassant. His highly pictorial images, caught between history and memory, are also “landscapes of the soul”, dear to the writers to whom he feels close. Elger Esser’s photographs require very long exposure times. Pinhole photography, an ancient technique used by Robert Charles Mann and Hanns Zischler, also involves slow shutter speeds, allowing all of a scene’s or landscape’s vibrations to be captured. Although from elsewhere, both photographers are fascinated by the Loire’s poetic power, which Robert Charles Mann discovered and glorified during his random strolls, while Hanns Zischler contemplated the river from above in the baskets of hot-air balloons.

Chaumont-Photo-sur-Loire will also acquaint visitors with Eric Sander’s fascinating heavy skies and the magic of a nature transformed by art under the aegis of François Méchain. In the heart of the Centre-Loire Valley region, just two hours from Paris, these exhibitions are invitations to a motionless journey to surprising inner landscapes.

Chantal Colleu-Dumond

Chantal Colleu-Dumond is an author and cultural exhibition curator. She lives and works in Chaumont-sur-Loire.


Chaumont-Photo-sur-Loire / Expositions d’hiver
From 19th November 2017 to 28th February 2018
Domaine Régional de Chaumont-sur-Loire
41150 Chaumont-sur-Loire