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LE BAL : Harry Gruyaert par Diane Dufour


Harry Gruyaert‘s exhibition at LE BAL is magical.
Harry is an amazing color photographer.
But what is also magical is this gift from Diane Dufour, the soul of the BAL, this unique place: an entire day of the Eye of Photography dedicated to Harry, his passions and favorite themes commented by superb texts.
Thank you Harry, thank you Diane, thank you to everyone who contributed to this day.
There are days when we are particularly happy to give a little of what we received.

Jean Jacques Naudet


Harry Gruyaert – La part des choses par Diane Dufour

A photographer born in Antwerp in 1941, Harry Gruyaert is one of the pioneers of color photography, just like the great Americans he saw and loved very early on, Joel Meyerowitz, William Eggleston and Stephen Shore. Far from his overly cramped native Belgium, New York in the early 1970s exposed him to Pop Art and “to look at banality differently, to accept a kind of ugliness in the world and to do something with it”. His friendships with the new New York scene (Gordon Matta-Clark, Richard Nonas) reinforce what Antonioni’s The Red Desert, “seen a thousand times”, had already distilled in him: the need to survey the world, to dive into it greedily, not to designate it or inform us about it, but to sculpt it, shape it. Transcribe his perception of things and not the things themselves. Be an onlooker, not a witness.

Harry Gruyaert said of this physical struggle, this hand-to-hand combat with things and beings: “I throw myself into things to experience this mystery, this alchemy: things attract me and I attract things”. In the bandwidth of life, when everything skips away and escapes and for “everything to fall into place”, you have to be both more and less there, forgetting yourself to grasp the material, the texture , everything that makes the here and now; to submit, while cultivating prescience, of an instinctive ordering of shapes, colors, symbols, lights, patterns.

Alain Bergala in Correspondance new-yorkaise distinguishes two types of photographers: those who believe in reality and make photography an art of presence and those who experience reality as impossible and only fix absence. By the yardstick of this distinction, Harry Gruyaert would be an anomaly, a photographer whose visceral presence in the world aims above all to capture its fleeting, intangible character. Isolated trajectories, disjointed spaces, bodies on the periphery, everything in his images contributes to render the absurdity of the world, the surreal collage of life and its detached pieces.

Photographing can therefore also be this: communing with a state of loneliness and telling a lie that is truer than the truth.

– Diane Dufour


The exhibition brings together for the first time 80 period prints made between 1974 and 1996 using Cibachrome process, which is distinguished by the sharpness of the image, the intensity of the colors and the saturation of the flat tints. This process, invented by Bela Gaspar, a Hungarian chemist in 1933 and marketed in 1963, makes it possible to obtain a print from a Color slide (so-called positive-positive process) by destroying the pigments incorporated into the sensitive layers of the exposed paper. then developed. These prints, which have become rare, have been brought together exceptionally at the BAL thanks to loans from several collectors and from the Gallery FIFTY ONE in Antwerp.


Harry Gruyaert – La part des choses
From June 15 to September 24, 2023
6, Impasse de la Défense
75018 – Paris

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