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Sølve Sundsbø, British Columbia – Louis Vuitton Editions


Synonymous with the art of travel since 1854, Louis Vuitton keeps adding titles to its Fashion Eye series of photography books.

Each book evokes a city, a region or a country, seen through the eyes of a fashion photographer.

Louis Vuitton Editions published in the Fashion Eye Collection British Columbia . The book brings together the spontaneous work of Norwegian photographer Sølve Sundsbø. The rocky mountains of the Canadian province, the snowy peaks or the simple work of light take on an unreal charm.

the work of Sølve Sundsbø is an amused whimsical construction. Sølve Sundsbø tells, “I do not feel the need to make realistic photos. I admire those who do it, but it’s not me. I try to idealize, to show a more fantastic universe “. Fashion photography or snapshots on mountain tops can only happen free from any constraint . For Vogue Italia, Sølve Sundsbø produced the Beauty Supplement series. No photography is alike. The black and white portraits, full and serene faces, as eternal, alternate with contorted body games, that became flexible bridges to erotic prowess. The photographer distills from one work to another tautological atmospheres without being caricatural.

Sølve Sundsbø has no real style, he does not have a signature but rather the cunning to recompose himself, such as in his series Enigma of the Hour (OOO). He has neither the provocative chic of Newton, nor the daring lightness of Bourdin, nor the joyous and mate color of Sassen … He has a playful lens. The situations amuse him one after the other and from the immediate, he draws an intuitive story, immediately understood by the viewer. The result is similar from one work to another. In front of the work, the eye is out of the present, in a contemplation entirely supported by the imaginary.

British Columbia responds to this logic. The Canadian mountain is taken from the sky by helicopter or on the side of a mountain, after going up and down its virgin slopes. Each photograph is not the same. It is a hollow truism and yet there are few books as powerful, pages as diverse. The photographer alternates abstractions, views with a formalist accent and simple aerial landscapes. In his hands, the furrows of the wind ring under the snowy channels. The breaking of the ice finds the echo of a rock in the peephole of a microscope. The rounded curvatures brush the sensuality of a feminine back. The flanks hung by the blue blast of the wind carry off. The scattered meteor pines crash and live heroic in absent plains. To write on the imaginary of his photographs is to exhaust the words. To defeat the image is not easy.

The technical motives of his compositions are rather simple, and yet they are mastered with balance, elegance and finesse. Playing with the contrasts allows him to slip towards abstraction. The windows of the cockpit made of thermoformed polycarbonate  can coat the scenes in sepia and turquoise. The rest is a matter of framing. Here a summit as broken as a sapphire, there the hollows of light under the damaged skin of the first snows. And the whole forms, with the right words of Alain-Paul Mallard, a “capture of snapshots […], an experience of the subjective and fugitive landscape”.

The mountain obeys under his gaze to the same contortions of a model. He takes it whole, made up by the wind, tortured by corsets of conifers. He loves it in his infinite surprise, in its silence of felt before the agitation of the night. He takes it out of time and gives its cheeks color. From one day to the next, British Columbia responds to him softly and agitated the next day. It is an inexhaustible actress and the eye of Sølve Sundsbø restores its unreal beauty. It is page after page an amazing rediscovery.

Arthur Dayras




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