French photographer Pierre Gonnord, masterful portraitist of the human soul, dies at age 60 | Culture | EUROtoday

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Although he had been in Spain for extra years than he had lived in France, the place he was born in Cholet, on June 28, 1963, Pierre Gonnord retained his Gallic accent when he spoke in Spanish, which he did with the velocity that his ardour for all times and images, to attain one other magnificent portrait of a stranger in some distant place. Gonnord, who died late on Sunday, April 21, in Madrid, on the age of 60, as a result of an sickness, was a grasp of photographic portraiture, a style during which he achieved a novel model of psychological strategy as a result of his use of chiaroscuro, to seize each final wrinkle on a face and to make sure that his sitters fastened their gaze on those that contemplated them.

Gonnord usually photographed his topics within the atmosphere the place that particular person lived, with their garments and in entrance of a black background from which they appeared to emerge (“taking them to a studio would ruin everything,” he commented); with out objects or ornament, with overwhelming realism. Always in massive format, this artist most well-liked to work with the sunshine of daybreak or nightfall and his periods often lasted round a minute, in response to what he mentioned. “If I lengthen it, they can become models,” he warned, which may result in the lack of the freshness of the virginal encounter with the digicam.

However, behind that minute there was a previous work of weeks, generally months, to get nearer and get to know these photographed little by little. Given the extraordinary outcomes he achieved, they as soon as requested him how a lot he ready the photographs of him, taken with a Hasselblad: “Nothing!”, he responded. He defended, nevertheless, {that a} portrait shouldn’t be “a mere carbon copy of reality.” He was fascinated by individuals with a peculiar physique and who radiated charisma and sensitivity. He made a homeless particular person, a nomad, a peasant, or a wrinkled previous man seem like princes due to the dignity with which he portrayed them. Pierre summarized {that a} portrait was one thing that was performed between two so {that a} third would emerge and be loved by a fourth, the viewer.

Self-taught, his first images have been taken with the Minolta that his father left him on Sundays, with the warning to be very cautious with it. In France within the seventies, images was in colleges and thus he was capable of be taught in regards to the work of Robert Capa or creators from different disciplines, such because the composer Pierre Boulez or an architectural genius like Le Corbusier. Little by little he started to really feel fascination with photographers corresponding to Diane Arbus, Walker Evans, Brassaï or Manuel Álvarez Bravo; Of the dwelling he particularly admired Cristina García Rodero and Alberto García-Alix.

Generous, jovial, Pierre was all the time informed, we informed him, that his portraits appeared like work by Velázquez, Caravaggio or Rembrandt, which ended up making him grimace just a little, maybe as a result of it had turn into a commonplace and reductionist of his immense expertise.

'Elena II' (2017), one of the portraits that Gonnord showed in the exhibition 'Atavismos', at the Museum of Human Evolution, in Burgos, in 2018.
'Elena II' (2017), one of many portraits that Gonnord confirmed within the exhibition 'Atavismos', on the Museum of Human Evolution, in Burgos, in 2018.PIERRE GONNORD / COURTESY JUANA OF AIZPURU GALLERY

Pierre had studied Economics in Paris, labored in corporations and communication companies and advertising and marketing, But his life took a primary flip when in 1988 a good friend inspired him to settle in Madrid, the place he felt welcomed by its individuals and its mild. Everything was going nicely till the loss of life of his brother, in 1996, knocked him out. He was misplaced for some time, till one weekend in Cuenca, the place a good friend had taken him to hearken to the mezzo-soprano Teresa Berganza made somebody as delicate as him come out of the nicely. He then determined what his life challenge can be: strategy strangers and attempt to present his life in a portrait, no much less. Thus, images was “a life jacket,” he mentioned, and in addition the way in which to beat his “unhealthy shyness.”

In his first works he portrayed younger individuals from Madrid, it was in Interiors (1999), and later in New York, City (2001). In the next years she made the collection Regards (2000-2003), Far East, in Japan (2003), the primary actually essential one in his profession, and Utopians (2004-2005).

Later, with the robust suggestion of García Rodero, he determined that what he needed was to journey alongside secondary roads and cross borders, corresponding to La Raya, which separates Spain and Portugal, which he traveled from high to backside looking for nomadic gypsies, scrap sellers, seasonal staff or breeders. of horses (he additionally made an exquisite collection of portraits of equines with a disturbingly human look). Regarding the completely different European borders that he crossed, they attracted him as a result of they have been “spaces of clash, of battles, of crossing and they are also natural separations, there is a lot of energy there,” he said in an virtually shamanic tone.

In the image, 'Fra Antonio' ​​(2015).

In different of his initiatives he photographed the individuals of the Three Thousand Homes neighborhood, in Seville; immigrants from the Maghreb within the greenhouses of Almería and miners in Asturias recent from the nicely, with their faces stained by soot (though I informed them to clean their faces just a little as a result of “so much coal did not allow the emotions to penetrate”). Pierre had beforehand accompanied them on their descent to a depth of 600 meters within the cage. In this case it was additionally a return to his childhood, when he noticed how the mines disappeared in France.

In considered one of his newest proposals, titled Those who’ve religion, looked for monks within the Alentejo, the Carpathians and Greece. In quick, he was drawn to photographing “people in danger of extinction,” he commented.

However, Pierre mentioned that when he arrived at any of these locations he was very respectful, it was not about invading the privateness of strangers and taking images of them; First he lived with that neighborhood, he knew them with out a digicam concerned, and solely when sufficient weeks had handed, generally even a few months, he would begin taking the primary pictures as a result of he had achieved sufficient belief. In his ideology, he maintained that “the photographer has the commitment to suggest and denounce.” “It can be done through poetry, but it has to be done with all the realism,” he declared in an interview on this newspaper in 2008.

Linked to the Juana de Aizpuru gallery in Madrid since 1999, when he starred in his first solo efficiency in that area, throughout the PHotoEspaña pageant, he maintained an important relationship with the gallery proprietor and, no doubt, she was the architect of his work reaching the dimension it has in the present day. presents. Gonnord exhibited in galleries in Barcelona, ​​Lisbon, New York… on the Museum of Fine Arts in Seville, with the exhibition Realities (2006); the Sala Alcalá 31, in Madrid (2009), the Andalusian Center of Photography, in Almería (2014), the University of Navarra Museum (2016) or the Museum of Human Evolution (MEH), in Burgos (2018), with a stunning montage during which he exhibited his portraits among the many stays of Neanderthals.

'Sophie' (2012).

Winner of the distinguished City of Alcobendas International Photography Award and the Community of Madrid Photography Award (2009), his work is, amongst different collections, within the Reina Sofía Museum, the Andalusian Center for Contemporary Art (CAAC), Seville; the Museum of Contemporary Art of Castilla y León (Musac), the Telefónica Foundation (Madrid), the Artium of Álava, the Dos de Mayo Art Center (Móstoles), the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie from Paris.

In latest months, already unwell, Gonnord didn’t need to quit his nice ardour and undertook a collection of portraits of individuals round him, from the marginal beings he present in his neighborhood within the heart of Madrid, corresponding to prostitutes or beggars… to his greatest pals and acquaintances. It was, most likely, one of the simplest ways to say goodbye to those that had given him good private {and professional} moments.

Portrait of a miner, titled 'Luis' (2009).
Portrait of a miner, titled 'Luis' (2009).PIERRE GONNORD / COURTESY JUANA OF AIZPURU GALLERY

Pierre Gonnord will now not be capable of proceed doing what he liked most: touring to fulfill individuals to {photograph}. “Life goes by very quickly and the cemetery is full of regrets,” he mentioned with humor to justify his inexhaustible need to proceed capturing the human soul in every face and to make us take a look at ourselves in every of his sitters.

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