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Végétal, 1984

Bernard Descamps
  • Artist (1947)

The decision taken in 1975 by Bernard Descamps (born in 1947 in Paris) to become a photographer led him to execute animated works in several cities and to take on numerous commissions from the Ministry of Culture, the Centre Georges Pompidou, municipal authorities and foundations.  In developing his personality in the photography of the natural landscape, Descamps often uses low angle shots.  This particular position gives rise to photos with relatively sharp contrasts.  In Végétal, a series of 20 inseparable photos,  the light values contrasting with the dark values highlight the relations of mass and complementarity between the branches of the trees and the sky.  They also enhance the rhythmic look of the trunks and branches, which punctuate the space by dividing it both vertically and horizontally.  The black and white treatment and the classical format of the photos show what seems to constitute systems in nature, which would be the programme of a vegetal growth and an underlying order.  His many journeys throughout the world (Sahara, 1982-87; Japan 1992-95; Mali, 1997-98; Vietnam, 2001-02; India, 2004) involve him in a particular approach to landscapes and the history of human beings.  “Whether it be the Pygmies of Central Africa, the Peuls in Northern Mali, or the Berbers in the High Atlas mountains of Morocco, they all share in common the fact that they hold a truth resulting from the balance which they have with the earth”, writes the photographer.  Descamps won the extra-mural Médicis Prize in 1992, the 3rd Prize for Pygmées, l’esprit de la forêt/Pygmies, The Spirit of the Forest, and the 6th Prize for Le don du fleuve/The River’s Gift at the Humanity Photo Awards ceremony organized by UNESCO and the China Folklore Photographic Association in 2000.

Nadine Labedade