Gilles Bensimon. Watercolour
6 Dec 2012 – 18 Jan 2013
Hamiltons Gallery presents its first exhibition of photographs by Gilles Bensimon, famed for his decades of work in
photography, fashion, and culture. Watercolour is a series of images that Gilles has been creating for the past two
years and marks a significant departure from his well-known earlier figurative oeuvre.
Fascinated by the natural beauty of flowers, and by their intimate associations with myriad varieties of cultural
expression around the world, Gilles has both literally and metaphorically submerged himself – and untold volumes of
freshly cut blooms – into pools of water to create amazing blossoms of colour.
The resulting images present a range of wonderful palettes, each created from three key elements which Gilles
combines to startling effect: the ravishing bouquets, his swift movements, and the chance reflections of light, filtered
through a gauzy, watery surface.
Blurring the lines of abstraction and representation, these pictures yield a new perspective on the traditional notions
associated with the depiction of the flower in art. Whether portrayed in the precision of Dutch still-life manner, the
broad brushstrokes of the impressionists, or the formalist lenses of modern masters of the genre like Penn and
Mapplethorpe, the flower has maintained and even enhanced its reputation as a marker for the transience and beauty
of human existence.
Gilles has taken this notion in a new direction, setting himself and the resulting images apart from their traditional
anchor, even as the historical references are reinforced. He remarks: ‘As soon as the flower is cut, it dies -- even
though it retains its inherently life-like characteristics. But when I plunge them into the water, they are briefly reborn. It
is as if I am bringing them back to life; the water helps me capture the essence of their living beauty one last time
before they wilt and fade.’
The colours are magical, taking new shapes and forms far beyond the purely representational nature of the blooms
themselves. It is this inherent quality that Gilles seeks to tease out of the elements with his lens: these amazing prints
give us a way to hold on to that special moment where light, water and colour combine to offer a unique,
Born ‘a relatively long time ago’, in his words, into a family of art dealers and artists, Gilles counts his current age of 15
in leap years, since he was born on February 29. His early ambitions included travelling the world with his
grandmother; after stints in art school and the army, he ended up working for fashion magazines in France. Having
established his international reputation for his time at the helm of ‘Elle’ magazine, he moved to the US to start an
American version of ‘Elle’, all the while continuing to engage with his love of art, literature and the power of the
photographic image. Gilles’ obsession for water and flowers have caused him to float in pools for months at a time; he
says he’s not done floating yet.
Gilles Bensimon’s Watercolour prints are made in editions of 15 measuring 70 x 90 cm, beginning at €6,000 (framed,
excluding tax); a few selected images are produced in an oversized edition of 3, 120 x 160 cm, beginning at €15,000
(framed, excluding tax). Please contact the gallery for more information on price and availability.