Paris Photo: Siskind and Fukui

As in previous years, I found Paris Photo rather a strenuous event. But then I make it so by trying to see everything, but to do so in the shortest time possible. It’s really a mistake to go on my own and to try and work so hard, because there is just too much there.

But I dislike the location, deep underground with no natural light, and, at least on the opening night far too much noise and far too many people, and there is just so much to do and see elsewhere in Paris. Paris Photo is in some ways the nasty medicine to be swallowed before I let myself enjoy the rest of the city, but also hidden in it are many treats.

Actually compared to previous years there was perhaps a little less going on at Paris Photo, with one or two familiar faces among the American dealers in particular missing, although there were still 18 US galleries there, including five listed as first-timers (Stephen Daiter, Robert Mann, Sepia International, Weinstein and Yoshii) as well as Janet Borden and Jackson Fine Art returning after an absence.

Perhaps most noticeable from the US were a number of galleries with work by Aaron Siskind (1903-1991) – it seemed to be his year.  Bruce Silverstein who represents the estate, tells me that a major show of his work is in the offing.

Business appeared to be pretty good despite the current financial problems, with people perhaps feeling that it’s better to have pictures than stocks and shares.

This year the overall emphasis of the show was on Japan, and it was good to see more work by some of the Japanese masters although for me the contemporary work in the Statement section from eight invited Japanese galleries was largely disappointing.

Among those whose work did take my interest, were the night urbanscapes of
Nobuhiro Fukui, (b1972, Naruto City, Japan) who lives and works as a magazine editor in Tokyo.  In an interview,  he talks of a long love of walking the city late at night, and when a few years ago,  inspired by the work of Osamu Kanemura (who later he went to as a workshop student), he decided to take up photography and bought a digital SLR it seemed natural to take pictures while he did so. He actually finds a bicycle the best way to get around the city at night, going to new places and photographing whatever he finds there. The large inkjet prints (and most of the best prints on display at Paris Photo except ‘vintage prints’ were inkjet – though travelling under a wide range of aliases) on display demonstrate clearly the superb quality that can be achieved at night using long exposures on digital cameras. The images show the superiority of digital under these conditions, with its lack of reciprocity failure and colour shifts and its ability to cope with unusual light sources.

More of my thoughts from Paris Photo in later posts.

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