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Galerie Sit Down : Jean Gaumy : From Nature


The Galerie Sit Down presents the series D’après Nature by photographer Jean Gaumy.

This photographic project carried out during solo trips in the Piedmont mountains is largely imbued with the unique aesthetic of its author. Through his intimate gaze, Jean Gaumy captures the raw beauty and complexity of nature and reveals to us the invisible presence of man while inviting us to immerse ourselves in the wild and mystical beauty of these inhospitable territories.


According to Nature

Jean Gaumy is a “really shy person”, but to take a photograph he often has to come within three meters or less.” A variation of Robert Capa’s precept – “If your photo isn’t good enough, it’s because you weren’t close enough” – which can make you smile. Yet it shaped his style. And this way of seeing our world, in the intimacy of men, through scenes taken from life, in complex compositions, has become a sort of second nature. Jean Gaumy speaks of tracking down concomitances. “It’s the dog coming on the left, the two guys who are going to shake hands, the old lady coming from the back, and a car passing by…”.

This time, for D’après Nature (a project started in 2003), the photographer turned to mountain landscapes where, at first glance, nothing is happening. As if to cover his tracks. He followed those which lead to the summits of the Alps. “Four or five parallel valleys which go from east to west, which rise up to 2000m, and are not much frequented.“ By walking for whole days, passing from one refuge to another, descending sometimes in the village to meet up with a few friends, Jean Gaumy created images that reveal shapes, lines, silhouettes in nature… In medium format. “To have a slower pace. These are days when suddenly things impose themselves on you. You “recognize” them.”

In these black and white photographs, both extremely graphic, sometimes bordering on abstraction, but also intimate, we often see what we want. This is also the power of this type of photography, to appeal to the imagination of the viewer, to force them to look more attentively, when our world pushes us more to just glance. We will appreciate in these images the personal history of the photographer, his culture, his past, and the human bonds he has created.

Because for him, these images are first of all the fruit of an impregnation, a whole heterogeneous mixture of elements which “sign” him. Jean Gaumy knows the mountains well, especially the little sister of the Alps, in the southwest of the country. “My childhood was in the Pyrenees. My family lived in Toulouse. We were very often in Ariège, the country of my great-grandparents. “All of this, everything that makes these images beautiful, looks like a déjà vu that he could not have photographed before. Until this project, and this book, published in 2010 by Xavier Barral. “These are all the images that come back to me from before. But not only. There are also unconscious references that arise – painting for example… Certain paintings by Andrew Wyeth, “Down Hill” or “Winter Monhegan”, discovered a few years ago thanks to Michelle, my wife. Those of the Renaissance, with these interiors where there are windows, doors, openings that overlook tiny landscapes. They are also the ones that interest me most often. In Pollock, there I think of the intertwining of trees and branches. Cinema (black and white of course!): Carl Dreyer, Arne Sucksdorff, Andreï Tarkovsky. Literature too: Jean Giono, Julien Gracq, Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz…“.

Jean Gaumy speaks of “decisive memory” about his book D’après Nature. The man, who has been a member of the Academy of Fine Arts since 2016, has wit, and like his elders, a real sense of formula. A gymnastics maintained by meetings and enlightened discussions. When a member of the Academy of Sciences approaches him and asks him “why are human beings, during their evolution, always attracted to beauty?”, he replies: “There are certainly avenues for reflection in sociology, in the history of art, but it perhaps also has to do with biology of which you are a specialist: a necessity for survival.“

Jonas Cuénin


Jean Gaumy : D’après Nature
from February 2 to April 13, 2024
Galerie Sit Down
4 Rue Sainte-Anastase
75003 Paris, France

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