Sandrine Hermand-Grisel: Nocturnes

Back in 2009, I had the opportunity to exhibit a wonderful series of photographs by Sandrine Hermand-Grisel. At that time, she had recently moved to the United States from France and she and her family had embarked on a road trip like another famous European...Robert Frank. Her images from this journey were pulled together in a group titled, "Somewhere..." And I got it. Looking at them, the gritty road, the strange landscapes, the buildings of no architectural significance... but also the dream of America and what it could mean. Always the highway and the land. I loved those dark pictures, scratched and flawed and searching. I showed a selection of those shortly after the market crashed in 2008 in an exhibition called, "The Great Disruption." There was a dialogue here between pictures; it was about what could be and what had been.

Now I am pleased that 7 years later, I can show another series by Hermand-Grisel, this one a more intimate series about those she loves. It is interesting to me, the darkness of these portraits. I have to lean in close to the prints to discern a face, a gesture, a glance...but these to me are akin to Julia Margaret Cameron's pictures from the 1860s and 1870s, portraits that reference Pictorialism and the simplicity of an uplifted face in a sea of blackness. Selections from "Nocturnes," Hermand-Grisel's long term project, will be exhibited at RayKo Photo Center in San Francisco as part of their Summer Show this year. Opening on June 15th,6-8pm, the exhibition will feature a select group of San Francisco-based photographers whose curiosity and experimentation with images and materials have taken them to the next level.

Somewhere... in Tonalea, AZ

Somewhere... in Monument Valley, UT

Sandrine Hermand-Grisel's roots are in painting and it is obvious from looking at her often Rembrandt-like photographs, that there has been some influence. Painting and photography have as many similarities as differences. The differences are obvious both in terms of the technique (paint versus film) and their nature (imitation versus reality). However, the relationship between photography and painting is ambiguous, considering that they are (in most cases) a two-dimensional representation.

So why this project, "Nocturnes? "Why this flashback to the source? Why reinvent a form of Pictorialism? Well, as the artist states, "Perhaps because the love I have for art in general and painting in particular needed to be expressed. Maybe also because I was looking for softness, for a way to let myself go and close my eyes... Close my eyes with my models , dreaming peacefully. I'm just trying to create a universe, a personal vision. I allowed myself to touch the real image, to play with color and the printing process to make an almost unique work of art, not unlike a painting. It is not so much to reveal the photographic truth but to take advantage of existing techniques to achieve the images I paint in my head."

"Nocturnes" got a special mention at the 30th Prix Kodak de la critique photographique. The prestigious jury was composed of Harry Gruyaert (Photographer Magnum Photos) , Bertrand Desprez (Agence Vu photographer), John Batho (Photographer), Diane Baratier (Director of Photography) and Yasmine Youssi (Journalist). This series of pictures continues to grow and change as the artist matures. If you are in San Francisco this summer, seeing these images in person is a real treat. If you happen to miss the opening next week, the exhibition is on view through July 26, 2016. Félicitations, Sandrine!

All about Sandrine Hermand-Grisel
Born and raised in Paris, France, Sandrine Hermand-Grisel fell in love with photography at an early age but it was only after obtaining a degree in Law that she decided to dedicate her life to her real passion. Influenced by her late mother's sculptures and her husband's paintings and films, she worked on several personal projects before her series, "Nocturnes" was recognized in 2005 for the Prix Kodak de la Critique Photographique. In the footsteps of her grandfather who was a filmmaker in the US Army during WWII, she moved with her family to the United States in 2006 and began experimenting with landscape photography with her series "Somewhere..." and "On the Road." In 2013, she created the acclaimed website All About Photo and now spends most of her time discovering new talents while still working on personal projects.

  All about Sandrine Hermand Grisel
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