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Leica Gallery Los Angeles : Mathieu Bitton : Paris Blues


Parisian, expatriated in Los Angeles, Mathieu Bitton, beyond his dilettante rocker exterior, is a real workaholic. Grammy-winning producer (2023), Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2012) and Leica ambassador, he is by turns art director, photographer, film maker, designer and, above all, the living proof that you should always believe in your dreams.

Known for his many albums and collaborations with leading artists, his work is exhibited worldwide, including currently “Paris Blues”, a pictorial journey through the French capital over the years, presented at the Leica Gallery* in Los Angeles. After “Darker than Blue” in 2016, this is the photographer’s second exhibition with Leica.

As Mathieu puts it, this series of photos plays like a symphony of his own existence – often lost, but never misplaced – and always in search of the melody.

On view until March 4, 2024!
Instagram : candytman

 *Leica Gallery – 8783 Beverly Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90048


Carole Schmitz : Paris Blues, your first exhibition about Paris, sounds like a declaration of love to your city of birth. What is it about Paris that particularly inspires you?
Mathieu Bitton : I left Paris in 1987 and feel Paris has never left me. When I thought about what should follow my last exhibition and book “Darker Than Blue” with, I kept coming back to the nostalgia I feel for my city of birth. Paris is  black and white to me. Just like Manhattan is black and white to Woody Allen. Every perfect moment exists in Paris. The most beautiful examples of humanity. People, architecture, fashion, music, poetry etc etc. Walking in Paris gives me more inspiration than anywhere else. And that’s why I decided to put together this body of work. And going through the images, I really had the Paris Blues!

Carole Schmitz : Do you often get the Paris blues?
Mathieu Bitton : Absolutely. Especially if im watching a favorite French film or listening to a French vinyl album.

Carole Schmitz : What was your criterion for choosing the images for this exhibition, as I imagine you must have thousands of them taken in Paris?
Mathieu Bitton : I started with an edit of 500 photos spending months going through images. Then I got down to 81 photos which felt like a show. Then my gallerist Paris Chong (yep, her name is Paris) told me to take it down to around 25. That was impossible and I settled on 36. So I decided every print in the show would have to give me a visceral feeling when I look at it. Every moment reflects an important moment for me. It was so hard to cut down so many images. But luckily, I’m working on a book now which will have hundreds of photos.

Carole Schmitz : You work a lot in B&W, is it to give your images more contrast, more intensity?
Mathieu Bitton : Black and white is how I see life. I’ve said it before, but I really believe in the timelessness of black and white. Black and white = Night and day. One of the things people keep telling me about the show is that it feels like a Time Machine. That’s a great accomplishment for me. Contrast is king too.

Carole Schmitz : What’s essential for you in a shot?
Mathieu Bitton : A feeling.

Carole Schmitz : What do the United States bring you that you can’t find in Paris, and vice versa?
Mathieu Bitton : Limitless opportunity. Dreams I could have never accomplished in Paris. At the same time the feeling of culture I feel in Paris, I don’t feel is quite the same in the US. So it’s a tradeoff.

Carole Schmitz : What does being Parisian mean to you?
Mathieu Bitton : Sarcasm, cynicism, and an eye for deeper meaning in life. Growing up in the most beautiful and iconic city in the world really will give you a different eye for life and art. You even hear things like music differently.

Carole Schmitz : Music is also very important in your life. Do you agree with Nietsche that life without music is simply a mistake?
Mathieu Bitton : Life without music would not be worth living. Everything I am is a result of the music I listened to growing up and the music that still guides me every day. Life is musical. Music is magical. It is the greatest medicine the world has to offer.

Carole Schmitz : How does music influence your images?
Mathieu Bitton : I try to compose a photo like a musician composes a song since I was given zero musical talent.

Carole Schmitz : What impresses and inspires you about artists such as Lenny Kravitz, Mick Jagger, Jay Z, Dave Chappelle, Ben Harper, Bruno Mars and many others to whom you’ve become close over the years?
Mathieu Bitton : Talent is the most impressive thing to be. Witnessing the creation of music in the studio, on a tour bus, in a hotel room or backstage at a show is a privilege I never take for granted. And I’m a great sounding board for artists because I’m always honest. They’re not used to that. Everyone is afraid to tell celebrities the truth.. Although it is all over the world, it’s harder to find in mainstream music. What’s popular today is no longer based on talent.

Carole Schmitz : What if you hadn’t been a photographer?
Mathieu Bitton : I wish I could have been a painter.

Carole Schmitz : It seems that your sons have also been touched by the virus of photography. Is this idea of transmission important to you?
Mathieu Bitton : My son Miles (now 24) has been assisting me since he was 13 and is now independently a great photographer. He’s even just directed a music video. Transmission is important to be but I never pressured my kids to do what I do. And both my sons (Julien is 21 and still in school but will make a great sports agent, he’s not as interested in photography).

Carole Schmitz : Will we have the privilege of seeing this exhibition in Paris (or elsewhere) soon?
Mathieu Bitton : I’m sure the show will make its way to Paris. We’re currently discussing Germany, New York, Mexico City and more stops.


Carole Schmitz : Let’s finish with a little Q&A “If Paris was….”.

– A woman or a man?
Mathieu Bitton : Serge & Jane.

– An artist
Mathieu Bitton : Marcel Duchamp.

– A piece of music?
Mathieu Bitton : “Valse de Melody” – Serge Gainsbourg.

– A time of day?
Mathieu Bitton : Midnight.

– A perfume, a smell ?
Mathieu Bitton : The smell of croissants at dawn.

– A piece of clothing?
Mathieu Bitton : 1970s Saint Laurent scarf from Marché Vernaison.

– A season?
Mathieu Bitton : Autumn.

– A color?
Mathieu Bitton : Gray.

– A sweetness?
Mathieu Bitton : « Marrons glacés ».

– An image?
Mathieu Bitton : “Alberto Giacometti, rue d’Alésia, Paris, 1961.” by Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Alberto Giacometti rue d’Alésia, Paris, 1961 © Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos

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