Maison Européenne de la Photographie – PARIS
A small but perfectly formed gallery in the heart of Paris is certainly worth a look, and if you don’t like paying entrance fees for your art, go along at 5 .pm on a Wednesday to get free entrance.
At present there are two good exhibitions of Magnum photographers:
Ferdinando Scianna and Ara Güler.
The first ever retrospective in France of Ferdinando Scianna’s work, this exhibition includes over 100 prints taken from several series produced from the 1960s onwards. These pictures have appeared in many books, such as Feste religiosi in Sicilia, Marpessa, Dormire, les Siciliens and Mondo Bambino.
A former student of literature and philosophy, Ferdinando Scianna is particularly interested in books. They form the natural and preferred medium for displaying his photographs, to which he likes to add accompanying text from writer friends. In 1963 he met the author Leonardo Sciascia, and they worked together on a number of publications.
A member of the Magnum Photos agency, Ferdinando Scianna works in reportage, fashion and advertising photography.
A former student of literature and philosophy at Palermo University, Scianna is passionate about literature; books are the natural medium for his photographs, which he likes to show alongside a text by one of his writer friends. Always reluctant to explain his images, he prefers to paraphrase those who worked in parallel using their own words. This exhibition is a notable exception, including as it does his own memories and thoughts on his work and career.
For Ferdinando Scianna, photography is a way of being part of life. Organised thematically, this exhibition is designed to provide an insight into this approach.
Born in 1928, Ara Güler began working as a reporter for major Turkish newspapers and international magazines in the 1950s. He became a major figure in Turkish photography and a renowned photographer worldwide, and joined the Magnum Agency in the 1960s. He carefully documented the rural and urban reality of Turkey, its archaeological and natural treasures, its traditions, and the first signs of its economic development. His work is part of the great humanist tradition, but it is aso imbued with a form of poetic realism that makes it uniquely powerful.
This exhibition is part of the Saison de la Turquie en France (Turkish Season in France) with support from the Paris City Council, Culturesfrance, IKSV (Istanbul Culture and Arts Foundation) and the Season’s patrons.
Ara Güler also became a correspondent for the foreign media. In his pictures from the 1950s and 60s reflect a sense of profound nostalgia. In Istanbul. Memories of a City (3) in which archive pictures are presented next to Orhan Pamuk’s childhood memories, Parnuk talks of hüzün, an Arabic word meaning melancholy and sadness, which he sees as “the strongest and most permanent sentiment in Istanbul over the last centuries”. This Istanbul, a nocturnal, misty city, is reminiscent of Serge Larrain’s magical views of Valparaiso.
The result is a view of a city that does not glitter with the prestigious remains of the Ottoman Empire but glows with another kind of light, that of glistening, rain-soaked pavements, twilight streetlamps, car headlights heading up to Beyoglu, and ferries disappearing into the mist along the Bosphorus.
Ara Güler is an amazing storyteller and his world is packed with references from literature, art and cinema, areas in which most of his friends work. ‘Our world was created by artists ; I looked everywhere for them and photographed them.
4). His fine portraits of Chagall, Calder, Bill Brandt, Orson Welles, Elia Kazan, Fellini, Bertrand Russell, Yasar Kemal and Orhan Pamuk, all part of the archives along with hundreds of other artists and intellectuals, reveal yet another aspect of his work and talent.
Although Ara Güler’s work is part of the great humanist tradition, his brand of poetic realism makes it uniquely powerful. HIs pictures are not just historic record of Istanbul. His shots of the city redolent with melancholy and his portraits of surprising presences make him one of the greatest photographs of the last century.
Today Ara Güler focuses on passing on the message of his “lost Istanbul” via countless books and exhibitions. Sitting in the Ara Café on the ground floor of the building where he grew up, he looks on with an amused eye as the world goes by, visitors come and go, and his fame continues to prosper. (text:Laura Serani, curator)
Quote: “To take a photograph is to align the head, the eye and the heart. It’s a way of life.”
Henri Cartier-Bresson ( Magnum founder)www.henricartierbresson.org