Gruyaert’s European splash of colour
As a follower of the colour photography that stems from William Eggleston and Stephen Shore et al, it was a pleasure to view the exhibition of Belgium Magnum photographer Harry Gruyaert at the Maison Europeenne de la Photographie in Paris today.
Gruyaert is a photographer whose impetus comes from travelling and the emotional use of colour. He cites Eggleston’s 1976 MoMA colour exhibition as one of his influences along with 1970s Italian movies and the paintings of Matisse. This splashy approach to colour is mixed with locations ranging from India, Morocco, the US, France and Belgium, among others.
The result is high impact colour pictures – with a bent towards a red palette – of street scenes, beaches, airports, trains – the crowded stuff of everyday. The feeling of the images is of a very competant assignment photographer working with a personal eye. Gruyaert himself has commented in interviews that the pictures of Belgium were hard to make because of his strict Catholic upbringing and it was only when he didn’t live there and working in colour that he could express the country where he grew up.
Unlike the U.S. and German photographers of the same school Gruyaert’s large scale prints are filled with grain and blocked shadows. A question of taste of course, but it was a minus for me. But a bonus to see a European interpretation of the ‘new colour’ movement.