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Photos du thème abordé dans ce texte
Une photo de la galerie PASSION COULEUR
PASSION COULEUR
Une photo de la galerie PASSION COULEUR
PASSION COULEUR
Une photo de la galerie PASSION COULEUR
PASSION COULEUR

The world repainted by the eyes


“The eye is the prince of the world.”
Joseph Delteil


When Delacroix came to Morocco in 1832 he was deeply impressed and his senses were overwhelmed as he told his friend Pierret in a letter. Victor Hugo, too, enthused about the colours of the Orient, and when Matisse discovered Morocco he wrote to his friend Bonnard, who had stayed behind in France: “This is very impressive.”


This whirlwind of colour, this intensity of the spectrum, this fascination, this captivating power, this magic which is somewhat hypnotizing – we find all this also in Xavier Zimbardo’s work and in his ‘Colours and Lights of the World’. The great Charles Baudelaire called Delacroix a poetry-writing painter, just like Chopin is often called a poetry-writing musician. Zimbardo’s pictures certainly permit us to call him a poetry-writing photographer, or even more to the point, a painting photographer, who does not only feel close to Delacroix and Matisse, but also the painters of the American abstract expressionism like de Kooning or Rothko. He uses the power of colours, the simplicity of the statement, and the intention to spellbind the viewers in exactly the same way. His works remind us of the high ranking works of abstract painting. He takes photos and captures what a layperson does not see with the eye of a visual artist, who is curious about everything just like Aristoteles for whom the world was a place offering constant amazement.


Colour is everywhere, it is the superior ruler. It does not dream, but is present, even omnipresent. It unfolds in spaces and offers itself to be captured by the artist's eye and camera. Zimbardo is an attentive and open-hearted soul, susceptible to his surroundings, searching benevolently for beauty and the beautiful things of the world. In his photographs life, in its full richness and diversity, flows from all directions. The exuberance with which it flows, flinging itself on to its viewers and flowing through them, characterizes his works. His pictures move us and evoke innumerable feelings in us. What we see hurts and confuses us and is a big shock to us – but is this not exactly the effect which we would like a work of art to have on us, but which we seldom feel? We do not only see the effervescing brightness and the light in all its hues, but also nature, fragrances and smells which also assail us, driven by the magical skills of the artist. This work focusses on mankind who Zimbardo places in the centre of attention. Every single photo is proof of that. After all, how could one talk about the world and our earth, without talking about its inhabitants, our ‘brothers and sisters’?


The people on these photos are so vivid, happy and passionate that they break the structure and the limitations of the pictures again and again. However, they are captured and held in a split-second. The dynamics shown in the photos comes from the speed of the motion, the fleeting, but decisive presence of the people, and of life passing quickly in the whirl of time.


Zimbardo is ebullient; he has committed himself to his passionate love of humankind with body and soul. A passion that never ends and forces him – be he disgusted or enthralled – to discover the world, to show it to others and to share it with them, full of amazement and wonderment, but never as a judge. Poets, painters, sculptors and above all photographers are ‘fire thieves’, but also and most of all ‘Frères Voyants’ (‘sighted brothers’) as Paul Éluard calls them, who feel, perceive and see much more than others. Zimbardo belongs to this species, this branch of humankind for the members of which the world in which we live is a phenomenon and needs to be deciphered and described without restricting oneself to the appearances. He does not miss anything, he seems to attract everything. In the series ‘Colours of the World’ he gives events, places and situations a new form and shows them at their best and in an unfamiliar manner. The photos of the Indian Holi Festival are breathtakingly powerful and beautiful; the colour pigments which the participants throw into the air remind us of rays of light or steaming fountains, they cannot be grasped and are fleeting like the cones of light on the stages of famous variety theatres or circus rings. The heads and turbans covered in layers of powder look like fireballs or, as the artist says himself, “waterfalls of colours running into one another and merging to iridescent whirls of sunlight”.


The photos of the series The Holy Powder on the Cobwebs are just as fascinating. They are a unique series of pictures stemming from a fertile and unlimited imagination, remarkably reminding us of contemporary art and installations in public spaces such as Othoniel’s Kiosk of the Night-owls in front of the Comédie Française in Paris. The project Cloths Hung up in Rows, Drying in the Wind in India has impressed me just as much. The artist plays with our perception, our experiences and the way we see things, misleading us to his heart’s content. Do we see here the inside of a nuclear reactor, the enormous vestibules of gigantic futuristic buildings or maybe even stairways to heaven which a mysterious enormous hand placed between heaven and earth? Riddle after riddle.


Children in the Undergrowth, Surrounded by Cloths hung up in the Branches emphasizes the contrast between nature and civilisation and does explicitly refrain from obscuring or doing away with differences. A festival of colours, motion and light, a song of praise to love and liberty, the two mainstays of Zimbardo’s view of the world. The Woman Dressed in Yellow Next to Stone Pillars and Between Long White Lengths of Fabrics is equally fascinating. Again, the artist plays with the differences, with the contrasting materials, with the difference between fullness and emptiness, heaviness and lightness. He shows again – above all those who do not yet know – that the universe knows only one score to which, as he says himself, “love and liberty” are the key.


Finally, I would like to talk about the picture which touches me most deeply: Child in a Yellow Jumper with Blue Belt, the Head Covered by a Bright Red Hood . As the child jumps into the air, the camera captures the movement in all its airy beauty in a magical moment of a standstill, but Zimbardo emphasizes the shadow of the figure, which impresses itself on the ground like an oversized Oriental calligraphy drawn by the hand of an expert. However, the shadow could also be a beetle, a specimen of an unknown species pinned to the ground…


Penetrating light: these photos surround us, do without words, yet they provoke words and feelings, returning the world to its silence and its glamour. Here the magic of a great talent unfolds, changing reality – and only reality – the character of which changes, being transformed into Oeuvre and Presence.


Michel Bohbot
Art historian
Expert of contemporary art

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