photo by Matthew Leifheit for CCNY
A mercurial poet of visual splendors, Pierre Le Hors challenges the ways in which pictures exist. Photographing transient beauty and anchoring it concretely in this world though the creation of carefully considered objects, Le Hors explores space.
“Photography lets me pay attention to the outward appearance of objects, to the surface of my surroundings. With photos you can isolate a little part of the world, saving it for later consideration. I find that you can discover a lot about the world by starting from its surface, and working backwards from there.”
Last month Dashwood Books released a new publication of Le Hors’ photographs entitled “Byways and Through Lines”. This object is halfway between a zine and a full-fledged book, and it contains a very personal alternative to the standard series of photos. The images are widely varied, drawings and paint marks are presented alongside pictures made using a scanner interspersed with more traditionally straight photography. The connections between images are poetically nonlinear, barely tangential, often bisecting each other and twisting together then separating. The flow of “Byways and Through Lines” is more like a cloud, an etherlike Chutes and Ladders for the eyes mind and heart. Diagrammed, I imagine connections between the images would looks very much like Le Hors’ photographs. The images are very warm and human, alternately emphasizing surface and depth, rich with visual play. “I usually don’t shoot with a very clear idea of where the images will end up,” Le Hors admits. “I tend to think about my pictures as pretty fluid things. Most of the images in Byways were initially unrelated. Some came from different projects, others were simply photos taken in a casual way, out of observation. In editing and laying out the book, I looked for several thematic “threads” to run throughout, parallel to each other. They criss-cross in certain places, and the title alludes to that. In a quite literal way, the book binds them and creates a third context.”
David Strettell, owner of Dashwood books, published “Byways and Through Lines” as part of the second year of the “Dashwood Book Series”. Other artists represented in this second volume of the series include Glen Luchford and Nigel Shafran, as well as a collaboration with Robert Mapplethorpe’s foundation which features unseen early collages and assemblages with an introduction by Patti Smith. “The idea behind the whole series is to introduce contemporary photographers and reintroduce largely unknown work from the past to a contemporary audience serving as a reflection of Dashwood’s own curatorial theme,” explains Strettell. “Variety is the key in terms of matching fashion with documentary with conceptual art as well as established figures with relatively unknown talents. What I recognized in Pierre’s working practice that it was linked very much to books and publishing. He had previously published a beautifully conceived project with Hassla, Firework Studies and was publishing experimental zines under the name NOWORK (with Tuomas Korpijaakko).”
“Firework Studies” is one of the most elegant photographic objects I have ever encountered. It’s more of a movie than a monograph, the edges silver leafed into a perfect block and every surface of the book covered full bleed in beautifully tonal black and white photograph. The book is sculpture, it reads back and forth and over and around, romancing the viewer with exploding light tendrils leaking over black ground in atomically generated paintings.
Le Hors makes things. In the time of tumblr where photographs increasingly loose connection to their origin there is a tendency for photographs to become weightless, images floating through space unhindered by a physical object. There is a high level of craft in Le Hors’ work, an attention to how it can be interacted with physically from a human perspective. This consideration of the encounter is evident in both sequential publications like zines and books and in the way Le Hors presents still photographs as prints. There is generally an emphasis on surface, on the photographic object. But not always. Always the vaporous quality of these photographs resists becoming solid.
17 C-prints mounted to aluminum
Installation views from “Alikeness” Solo exhibition Ed. Varie, New York, NY January 2011
Leah Beeferman / Pierre Le Hors Two-person exhibiton PACS Gallery, Brooklyn September 2011
“I think there is a lot to be said for being literal, or plain spoken. I also think of abstraction as being literal, one-to-one: what you see is what you get.”
Le Hors is the current recipient of CCNY’s darkroom residency, and he’s making exciting new pictures. As part of the residency an exhibition of the work that eventually results will be presented at CCNY sometime next year. This will surely be something to see as Le Hors’ ideas of what could happen in his art seem like the galaxy to be constantly expanding, spiraling outward and inward, through space and time. Stay tuned.
-Matte Magazine for CCNY