J’aime le strip-tease - Frank Horvat, vu par Valérie Belin: De la camera obscura à la boite de nuit - PHOTO DAYS INVITE VALERIE BELIN

Frank Horvat Studio 7 November - 15 December 2021 

In 1962 Frank Horvat published J'aime le strip-tease. I don't remember exactly how I came to know these photographs, whether I saw them in a magazine or in the book itself, but they have remained engraved in my memory because they depict three elements in a very simple way and with a great economy of graphic means: darkness, light and the body. In a way, they are part of my "photographic imagination", as is the case with the famous Girl with a Leica by Alexander Rodchenko, made around 1934.

For me, these photographs by Frank Horvat belong to a typically "Aristotelian" vision, with a pre-eminence of sensitive qualities, in the sense that they are more about sensation than about vision itself. It is said that Aristotle noticed, during an eclipse of the sun, that the luminous spots that form on the ground in the shadow of a foliage took the shape of a crescent. He would have deduced that these spots were in fact images of the sun and thus discovered the phenomenon of the camera obscura. It is this same light, passing through the leaves of the trees, that we also find in Renoir's Bal du Moulin de la Galette and in many impressionist paintings. One could say that with these photographs by Frank Horvat, we go from the camera obcura to the nightclub and that we are inside to observe directly what happens there, as if delivered to pure sensation.

It is after several years that I realized that there was a link between some of the photographs I made and these photographs of Frank Horvat. A link by the theme, as for example in the photographs of burlesque artists that I made in 2012 (the Bob series), but above all a formal link, as in the Black-Eyed Susan series, which I made in 2010 and of which I present a photograph here. I used other means, in particular digital, but the intention is the same: I simulate a projection of luminous patterns on the surface of a face, as if I had used a slide projector in the half-light of the studio or the lighting of a nightclub. In this way I am metaphorically using the same kind of light artifice that is at work in the Strip-tease series.

So this exhibition is an opportunity for me to pay tribute to a photographer whose work I appreciate for its great diversity, its sense of experimentation and inventiveness - and who has influenced me through the memory I have kept of this particular series of photographs.