Conversing to Jean-Daniel Lorieux
July 6, 2021 | Gandia Blasco Group
The iconic French fashion photographer Jean-Daniel Lorieux is showing a selection of his photographs in the exhibition Azul Azul, dedicated to the oceans, curated by Alberto Espinosa Grau and sponsored by Fearless magazine. Around twenty photographs from the past four decades taken from his campaigns for brands such as Dior, Celine, Fendi or Pierre Cardin and editorials for fashion magazines such as Vogue Paris or Madame Figaro, with blue and the sea as the common denominator.
5% of the funds raised from the sale of the works will go to Kind Surf, the socio-environmental NGO founded by Almudena Fernández with the aim of supporting young people at risk of social exclusion through surfing and environmental education.
Where? You can enjoy this selection of his works dedicated to the sea in our new Gandia Blasco Group flagship store in Madrid (Calle Ortega y Gasset, 28) until the 31st of July. Bringing soft golden reflections and evoking the signature material of GANDIABLASCO’s, outdoor designs, aluminium, the Lorieux images have been printed with a premium quality finish on Dibond by French wall decoration company Scenolia.
With the opening of the exhibition on the 8th of June, World Oceans Day, we had the pleasure of talking to the artist himself:
Azul Azul… what is the truest blue your lens has captured?
“Dark blue, the blue of the sky when I lie on the ground and look at the stars, what is known as midnight blue. The blue when I look at the sea, navy blue, and the clear, deep blue when I look into a woman’s eyes. I think of a bright gaze like that of the French actress Isabelle Adjani.”
After so many trips, people and experiences, what does the Mediterranean offer you that other seas don’t? And the Mediterranean lifestyle?
“The Mediterranean lifestyle is my favourite. The French Riviera, in the south of France, where I go a lot, is very pleasant. There is an art of living that I admire a lot in Spain: the good humour, the joy, the festive character, the liveliness… And the beautiful Mediterranean beaches of this country. I like the atmosphere of the small towns, the lively conversations on the terraces. I know Ibiza a little bit, there you feel like you are in a dream, this island is a little paradise.”
Of all the things you have been told that the photos of the Azul Azul exhibition express, what stands out for you?
“Some people have told me that it is as if I wanted to bring the sea and the oceans closer to Madrid. I also wanted to bring, through these images of joy and smiles, the sparks of light in their eyes.”
Do you remember what it felt like to shoot those images?
“Taking these kinds of images represents happiness, the creativity that is generated with the whole team I’m with. It also reminds me of the moment of reflecting on the choice of a place to do the shooting, the sensations of putting the models in front of me in order to find originality… If I manage to transmit that happiness to the people who look at the photos, I’m happy.”
How does an image become an icon that transcends the passage of time?
“People suddenly get excited when they come across an image. Why a particular photo? It’s not up to me, it’s probably a mixture of the conscious and unconscious talking… You never know when an image will make it. You never really think about it, it just happens on its own. That’s a part of the mystery that escapes us. Several times I’ve been lucky, but I’ve yet to find the recipe for an image to be a guaranteed success.”
You worked in publications such as Vogue and L’Officiel, which did great documentary work, expressing social changes over the years. What is it about paper that makes us nostalgic people think that there is nothing better than living, smelling and feeling each page?
“We need to see, to feel… Why do we walk or take a plane? It’s a way to travel from home, to escape from reality. Sometimes we feel happy just to turn our heads and escape. We need that. It’s like when you close your eyes and dream: it allows you to imagine another world, different environments. It’s a bit similar with magazines, to be able to touch them, to be able to turn the pages to look at the photos and texts that make them up one by one…”
In the 1980s you shared a lot with Irving Penn, Helmut Newton and Guy Bourdin. Your genre, between art and fashion, marked an era and is still powerful, having crossed the boundaries of photography. Did you know at the time what you were achieving?
“No, not at all. I especially admired these photographers, their work and what they had achieved. Having admiration for certain people no matter what you do, unconsciously, helps you to improve. When we are young, we do it without a deliberate ulterior motive, it’s all passion. To look higher, towards the horizon and the stars, I always stood on my tiptoes.”
Fearless was born out of a desire to spread sustainable luxury and social photography. Do you also believe that photography and fashion can help change the world for the better?
“I don’t think you can change the world so easily, but for the people who love it, I hope that these photos bring happiness… Happiness and colours, things we need so much in this ever-changing and sometimes cruel world (note to the reader: when he was 22 years old, and for two and a half years, Jean-Daniel was a war photographer in Algeria).”
What do you miss about fashion photography before fast fashion and digital photography?
“The amazing thing with the advent of digital devices is that you can correct a mistake instantly and have immediate access to everything on your computer. I love analogue cameras because of the special grain that the technique brings to the images, but it is true that it is slower and sometimes you have to waste film if there is a mistake. So I’ve always been careful. But even with digital, I’ve never taken too many pictures.”
Did you ever imagine that your photos would become a statement to raise awareness about the urgent need to protect the oceans?
“No, but I am very happy to be able to participate in this initiative to raise awareness for the protection of the oceans through my photos and by donating part of the proceeds to the Kind Surf association. I think it’s a great cause, because they are becoming more and more polluted and it’s very sad. I have always been fascinated and inspired by the oceans and seas because of their beauty, their immensity and all the life they contain. In my time we were not sufficiently aware of this. Today we all know that the oceans need us and we can all contribute to protecting them.”
What does it mean for you to be exhibiting in Madrid for the first time?
“I did not expect it. It is a great pleasure that my photos have been chosen to help protect the oceans and, if people enjoy seeing the exhibition, it is even better. I am grateful to all the people who made this adventure possible, for which I feel very honoured.”
Did you like seeing your images on Dibond?
“The theme of the exhibition is saving the sea and, ultimately, protecting our world. That is why I chose images in which the sea, the oceans and the blue sky are the absolute focus. I was lucky enough to have my photographs printed by Scenolia with marvellous results; they really knew how to reinterpret my images. I particularly liked this new printing process on Dibond, which allows certain photographs to stand out and highlight them. When the blue sky and turquoise sea are brought to life with the luminosity of these prints, the result is very decorative. It was fantastic, everyone loved it!”
What are your next projects?
“I have the pleasure to continue doing photography for different magazines and high fashion brands. I also have some exhibitions coming up in Paris, Miami and Shanghai. Coming to Madrid opens doors to other exciting projects in other countries thanks to the unconditional support of galleries and exhibition spaces around the world.”
Gandia Blasco Group’s new showroom in the capital is the home of Azul Azul until the 31st of July. The company’s three brands have a wide variety of designs and outdoor spaces and they invite you to experience them in an intimate and creative way, all year round. Sun, light, natural beauty, shared moments outdoors… are they also your source of inspiration?
“Yes, of course. I immediately found that the refined and modern atmosphere and design offered by Gandia Blasco Group’s brands matched and enhanced my images. The combination of their designs and my photos is superb, I couldn’t have hoped for anything better.”
Diabla and GAN’s designs are visually powerful, graphic and contemporary. Were you surprised by the result of exhibiting in a showroom for designers and architects and not in a conventional gallery?
“Yes, it was a total surprise. It highlights our work as photographers, it’s completely different…. There’s a kind of fusion effect between these two areas, design and photography. The environment changes and moves and it’s very nice to be able to sit, watch and take your time. We are very happy when we arrive at our homes, with colourful pictures on white walls. The photos bring happiness to these big spaces. It is a pleasure for me when we go to Miami, Los Angeles, Saint Tropez, Ibiza or Mallorca… and I see my large format photos dressing the walls and living in these villas.”
With what sensations would you like them to remember your images after looking through the photographs selected for Azul Azul?
“I would like people who enter this showroom to leave happy, with a desire to travel and discover the world and its beauty. I hope these images give them an escape to the sun and the sea, to the blues.”
They say that a good design makes people’s lives better. Do you think there is also a definition for good fashion? And for good photography?
“I think people can like a certain style of fashion or photography, it depends on each personality. The world sees different styles and colours in infinite ways, and whilst some art and fashion may not appeal to some people, for others it can make them dream.”
Interview with Jean-Daniel Lorieux by Isabelle Levame and IT Comunicación.
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