My neighbor Sam Szafran (1934-2019) was an extraordinary man, artist, friend.
We often had lunch together, and we had agreed to paint his portrait.
More concerned about our shared friendly moments talking about our life, our backgrounds, current events, than freezing a moment; time has passed too quickly. Sam bowed out, and it was his coffin that I photographed.
During a visit to his widow Lilette, overcome with regret at not having any memories in images of my friend Sam, finding myself in his studio, the desire to photograph this place came over me. It is a loaded, magical universe that can be found in most of his paintings: endless stairs, exuberant vegetation, numerous easels and hundreds of pastels. I took hundreds of photos of his studio, a precious place where his presence resides.
Sam Szafran was considered the greatest French pastellist.
It was a great honor, and a lot of emotion, when Lilette allowed me to come and work in Sam’s studio and especially to use his pastels.
I worked on my images by putting traces on them with his pastels. I thus intended to continue our friendly bond, to find ourselves united in my work, to pay homage to Sam… giving him a colorful and lively presence…
A retrospective of Sam Sazfran will take place in Paris at the orangerie in October 2022.
I had the opportunity to be the guest of honor at the photographic festival in Le Havre for a personal exhibition at the Jardins Suspendus du Havre in 2019. At the time, I showed my series on the seasons of Japan.
These hanging gardens that have become famous are extraordinary, especially the greenhouses.
I had the idea of redoing an exhibition there by photographing these gardens in my own way and making it the summer 2022 exhibition, the exhibition was to be called “Face to Face”. A tribute to Sam, whose workshop is like a greenhouse facing the greenhouses and gardens of Le Havre.
When I got to work, I often had the opportunity to meet and talk to the local gardeners. I discovered extraordinary people through their passion for their profession. I started doing portraits of two gardeners. Then my work finally focused on most, there are now 30.
In discussing with them, I did not want to paint a passive portrait but one of collaboration. I chose places in the garden that they liked, and I mixed them together to make an oeuvre.
The exhibition is now called “Côte à Côte”.
On my own initiative, I decided to offer them each a signed and autographed print, on the day of the opening. I imagine a moment of emotion for all.
The exhibition is presented at L’Alvéole 13 from Saturday July 2, 2022 to August 28, 2022, and open every day from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. with free access at 65 rue du fort, 29 rue Albert Copieux in Le Havre.