Friday, May 28, 2010

Mr. Josef Koudelka

I had some luck yesterday here in Paris. I had been looking at a book by Josef Koudelka at several different book stores over the last few days. When I went to the Magnum Gallery yesterday I finally decided to buy it for 60 Euros. The lady at the Magnum gallery shop suggested I go to Magnum agency to see some original prints on display there. I rushed across town, got lost and finally found the agency. The photos on display were very good especially a b/w series of peoples faces in a conference room area. After 40 minutes or so of looking at photos and and photo books in a relaxed friendly atmosphere I decided to leave. A nice French gentleman (Mr. Clemente) a photographer who was temporarily working the front desk of the agency told me that Mr. Kouldelka was upstairs and phoned up to ask if he would come down and sign my book. Josef Koudelka very graciously interrupted his work day to come down and sign the book, a kind generous man it was an honor to meet him. I also owe thanks to Mr. Clemente who went out of his way to help a stranger. Magnum, quality people doing important work.

It was a lucky day, a real lucky day, many things had to fit together for this to work out for me. I bought the book on that day luckily and on leaving one Magnum book place was told about the second office agency. After 40 minutes of looking at pics I was leaving and got caught in the doorway when it started to rain, Mr. Clemente who was smoking up front and I started talking. He saw me put the book down against the wall and then told me about Josef Koudelka being upstairs. It was a series of great coincidences. In fact I only went to the first Magnum book shop because the gallery I had planned to originally visit had been robbed earlier that week and was still closed. Because of all those coincidental things I got to meet a photographer I admire greatly, one of the best alive. A nice memory all round!

Update* That book is now a prized possession, that I keep safely stored away in my large photography library.Another great thing about this event is that I get to bug my friend Larry all the time, "Did I ever tell you about time I met Josef Koudelka?" have done that 10 or 15 times so far:)

By Josef Koudelka from his book "Gypsies"

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Manets Olympia

Today I took my time and really studied Manets OLYMPIA for about 1 hour. Your able to get very close to the painting without glass in between you and the canvas. I got a real good look at her expression, originally I felt it was more angry and rebellious but on a closer look it struck me as sad and confined. It affected me more than anything else I saw at the D Orsey, Manets Olympia is a prostitute who receives flowers from her john-lover. When you can look at the near lifesize face (big painting) it totally changed my interpretation, I recognised a look in her that I had seen in Thailand-Cambodia, a sadness, a frustration that I had missed before when looking at the book versions. I am not sure how much time Manet spent in the brothals of Paris (he died of Syphilis) but he got the expression just right on Olympias face.

I also saw some carvings by Gaugain that I somehow missed my first visit, stunning in there raw power. There was a mask that also had a full figure in shadow on the inside that was particularly moving.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

In Paris

Been in Paris for the last 4 days, an amazing historic city of art and cafes. My first impression was that people tend to be sitting at outdoor cafes drinking latais and wine, gossiping and relaxing. The French seem to enjoy life to the fullest, laying in parks, playing music enjoying a glass of wine.

Am staying at a very small apartment with a ladder like entrance and a double bolted door behind a large heavy street door with electronic combination code access. Not sure if all this security is normal or because of the crime in the area but it seems very secure.

Two days ago I went to the Musee de Orsay, was amazed at the art on display. You walk along and there is 5 or so Gaugains, then 5 or so Van Goghs followed my Manets Olympia and Monets pond lillies, Rodin sculptures, Degas, Edward Munch etc etc. You sort of get dizzy with all the great work you see.

Yesterday went to Pere Lachaise the most famous cemetary in the world. Shot a bunch of film on things I found interesting including the the people tourists in the graveyard. I also did a bit of grave visiting, Chopin, Gaulthier, Modigliani and Morrison. Jim Morrisons grave was a bit of a nightmare complete with angry staff and security. They had Morrisons grave surrounded by a metal fence and it was the number one draw, old, young and those in between crowded around the little opening to his grave trying to see what they could see. There were two photos on the grave along with burning candles, a near by tree had graffitti on it that the staff was trying to clean off, when I and another guy (young American) tried to take photos of the cleaning, one older male staff member got angry and started yelling NO PHOTOS, NO PHOTOS, he even got into a pushing match with the other guy, yelling at him in French. I ended up backing off and he left me alone but I got most of my photos anyway as I was using a 21mm lens and got some of the cleaning in the shots on the edge of the frame, they did not realize they were in the photograph.

It was an exhausting day of about 9 hours in the cemtary shooting from 8am till about 5pm followed by a 3 metro line ride home and 8 block walk back to the apartment. The shower on returning felt wonderful and I was a bit dehydrated even thou I drank 2 bottles of water at the cemetary. I had some more water a bit of cheese and was off to bed. Am glad I saw what I saw there but do not think I will go back this trip to much to do, to many places to go.

Stairs into my Paris apartment

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Protests in Bangkok

Blood in the streets of Bangkok, 43+ dead, hundreds injured, tragic times. I feel like I am in the wrong place, I should be over there making photographs of what is happening, photographing the people from both sides. I am here in Canada working my regular job, I should be in Bangkok making important photographs.

Hopefully the people in Thailand can resolve this mess with no more deaths. Stop the killing and address the problems of the society or there will only be more and more serious problems in the future.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Quote: Aaron Siskind

" The main thing a work of art has to give you is order. It takes all this mess of ours, which is so wonderful and disturbing, and puts it together for us so that we can contemplate it. It removes you from life so you can live your life."