texts

….His work represents, in effect, a choice of existence, a constant engagement with photography. This is an attidude that’s most frequently found in painting – one of total devotion to creativity as a genuine reason for living, and a continuing obsession. It’s an image that runs through the history of art . Though less common in photgraphy, it fully applies to Brihat.

Extract of a text published in the last monography of  Denis Brihat. Publisher : Le Bec en l’air – 2015

Didier Brousse, director and founder of the gallery Camera Obscura ( Paris-France)

 

Garden of the World

While some photographers are related to the (amply described) race of hunters, Denis Brihat belongs to the peaceful tribe of gatherers. A practical philosopher, at an early age he decided to cultivate his garden. A poet of the image, he celebrated the beauty of the world by creating a number of blazons in honor of the delectable manna it showers on us: flowers and fruit, vegetables, trees and a few less domesticated specimens of the plant kingdom, which seemed to him to epitomize all the riches whereby Nature liberally contributes to human happiness. This is because he looked upon the world from his garden or, when roaming the world, was guided by the reverie of a serene gardener. His mastery of the art of photography provided him with an eye that constantly fathomed the essential (light, in black and white). Going further, his prints were enhanced by metal “toning” (gold, copper, selenium…), their crystallization revealing to us the color of light, something far greater than the color of things.  Through this sparseness he achieved a simplicity that keeps him from any form of mawkishness and distances him from the vegetable garden anecdote. We wager that many of his images might well have become icons had he not, out of a personal humility matching the noble simplicity of the subjects which absorb him, challenged his status as an artist by claiming to be a craftsman. Nonetheless, his work is unique and says a great deal without needing words. This book, a survey which cannot do entire justice to the thrilling exquisiteness of the originals, is a dazzling proof of the utter necessity of his singular oeuvre.

Georges Monti, June 2005

Denis Brihat, image-maker of the Luberon

Photographer of nature, in the heart of the scorched mountain surrounding him he finds a store of subjects whose wealth seems boundless. “For a thing to become interesting”, Flaubert wrote, “we only have to look at it for a long time.” Looking long: that is Brihat’s secret. For years now this slightly near-sighted giant has roamed, slowly, raptly, in the midst of the flora of Provence, and if all of a sudden he bends his lumberjack’s frame, it is over the parasol of an euphorbia, the corolla of a marjoram, the lace of a lichen or a wild oat helmeted with a tiny snail. The infinitely small is his realm, and this implies neither abnegation nor abdication, nor withdrawal out of a fear of reality. […]

Because when he enlarges a slice of lemon to the size of a cathedral rose window, when he puts a single acacia seed or spike of lavender on a neutral background – a background of nothingness  – he raises these tiny harbingers to the power of the cosmos, and infinity is certainly  what he intends to possess, infinity withdrawn from the wear of time, an eternal infinity. […]  We are somehow reminded of Leibniz with this photographer who delves into the intimate structure of an onion or the flesh of a slice of truffle with the glorious sense of sounding the abyssal depths of being.

We used to have a saying in French when a child was diligent and intelligent, that he was sage comme une image. I have always been curious about this combination of two of the finest words in the human language. They did rhyme, but where was the reason? Reason that associated wisdom and the art of images: its best illustration is perhaps to be found in this rustic house in the Luberon, [at the entrance to the village of Bonnieux where Denis Brihat lives with his wife Solange].

Michel Tournier