Galerie Leica Paris presents an exhibition of Paolo Roversi’s photographs taken in India.
Paolo Roversi is a photographer best known for his fashion work in the studio, using large-format cameras and Polaroids, but he has rarely photographed outdoors. These previously unseen images therefore hold a special place in his work.
These are travel photos taken during stays between 1989 and 1991, landscapes, portraits, snapshots taken from a bus or while wandering the streets, camera slung around the neck.
Opposite are images taken for the 1989 paolo roversi summer collection by Italian couturier Romeo Gigli, with whom Paolo Roversi has collaborated since 1985. Model Kirsten Owen poses in delicately transparent outfits. Against dark, moonlit backgrounds, her luminous skin is revealed in fragile portraits.
Used to working in color since his early days, Paolo Roversi would never have imagined photographing India in black and white. He used Kodak Ektachrome 200 and 400 ISO film. His images convey intense, deep and subtle colors, evoking the flowers to be found on every street corner and in every temple, and weaving together melodies and smells with a gentleness and abandon that are typical of India.
This initiation trip had a profound effect on Paolo Roversi’s practice, giving him a form of freedom in his work as a fashion photographer. He admits that India pushed him a little further towards slowness. In the 1990s, he welcomed and creatively experimented with long exposure times, the unexpected and accidents, the vibration of blur, the exploration of intense blacks or the milky softness of whites, the emergence of emotions, thus establishing the vocabulary that today defines his singular style.
These images of India convey Paolo Roversi’s strange feeling of having traveled in a dream, between light and shadow, past and present, reality and illusion, life and death. In this uncertain space, where photography rightly belongs.
Paolo Roversi is represented by Pace Gallery (New York, London, Los Angeles) and Camera Obscura in Paris.
About the Author
Born in Ravenna in 1947, Paolo Roversi’s interest in photography was kindled as a teenager during a family vacation in Spain in 1964. Back home, he set up a darkroom in a convenient cellar with another keen amateur, the local postman Battista Minguzzi, and began developing and printing his own black & white work. The encounter with a local professional photographer Nevio Natali was very important: in Nevio’s studio Paolo spent many many hours realising an important apprenticeship as well as a strong durable friendship. Paolo later moved to Paris in order to pursue a career working as a reporter for the Huppert Agency. It wasn’t long before Paolo grew an interest in the realm of fashion and began channeling his vision into this new world. Eventually, the British photographer Lawrence Sackmann took Paolo on as his assistant in 1974. « Sackmann was very difficult. Most assistants only lasted a week before running away. But he taught me everything I needed to know in order to become a professional photographer. Sackmann taught me creativity. He was always trying new things even if he did always use the same camera and flash set-up. He was almost military-like in his approach to preparation for a shoot. But he always used to say ‘your tripod and your camera must be well-fixed but your eyes and mind should be free’”. Paolo endured Sackmann for nine months before starting on his own with small jobs here and there for magazines like Elle and Depeche Mode until Marie Claire published his first major fashion story. A Christian Dior beauty campaign brought him wider recognition in 1980, the year he started using the 8 x 10” Polaroid format that would become his trademark. Through his curiosity, his vision and his passion for photography, Paolo has become a global inspiration for photographers and the world of fashion.
Paolo Roversi: India
From November 9th, 2023 to January 27, 2024
Leica Gallery Paris
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