Ruddy Candillon’s Photography Acts as a “Return to Sender”
“Moreover, I am convinced that everything can be recycled. I don’t believe in good or bad but only different points of view depending on how we digest all these. Everything has a meaning but we do not always see its interconnections.”
Ruddy Candillon is a photographer whose work carries shades of history—both personal and cultural—in its imagery. If you study an image, you may find within it the gestural quality of painting and the ecstatic imagery potentially reminiscent of his time spent at raves in the early ‘90s. Candillon’s art is in many ways representative of current culture. We’re at a point where the past and present blur beyond recognition—often forming something that appears entirely original. His work displays this interconnectivity of new and long ago. Read on to learn more about Ruddy Candillon in this interview with The 7th Magazine’s blog, Luxury Chapters.
- What is it about photography that drew you in over every other art form?
I have been practicing different forms of art and performance for 30 years, but photography has always been the witness of all these visual experiments. I have used photography in my work since the beginning even before entering Paris Art School, l’Ecole des Beaux Arts and getting my master’s degree.
I was fortunate to have a black and white photo lab in 1988 at the age of 15, which I used to develop the images of my street art at the time. It was the witness of my ephemeral creations before starting to have my own style. It is in continuity with the other forms of graphic art that I have practiced such as serigraphy, lithography, anatomy.
I have also done live video mapping since 2005 (audioptik1 on YouTube) and DJ since 1996 (dj Ruddybass on mixcloud). These are elements that have a great influence on my creations.
In 1997 I started to use photography no longer to archive my works but as an artistic medium in its own right. Thanks to l’Ecole Des Beaux Arts, which allowed me to learn how to develop very large formats in color and black & white, I was able for six years to produce miles of printing in addition to serigraphy, lithography and more traditional painting.
I wanted to leave the artist traditional “atelier”/ workshop, as the Impressionists with their easel at the time. For me it was getting out with my tripod but in a “palindromic” version, working behind and in front of the camera, in a 3D space as I did with the graffiti. The use of the long exposure allows me to continue the anamorphoses of the subject or object while retaining the imagination and the gestures of the painter. I use the light in my work like a brush in painting. Moreover, and like street art, light painting made me act at night, the spray bomb was replaced by light but gestures and energy are the same.
- You’ve stated that you aim to preserve the energy and movement of traditional paintings in your photography. Why is it important to you to emulate aspects of painting in your work?
The traditional painting that I practiced was as instinctive as my photos. This gestural energy part of all the artistic trends in the art history; from the counter culture to the culture.
Traditionally trained, I visited Rome, Florence or the Rijksmueseum. I studied the anatomy and various impressions of lithography, serigraphy to street art. However, I am like the Beastie Boys’ little brother, growing up with the counter culture of the 70s, the Figuration Libre movement of the 80s with Keith Haring or Speedy Graffito in France until the Rave Parties early 90’s in which I participated actively.
What I call traditional painting is working on with light and therefore contrast, light vs shadows, with effects of blur and dilutions that you can find in watercolor, oil or spray paintings. I wanted to transpose this aesthetic into photography, by using sets of focal, regaining the more traditional portraits, still-life, landscapes, the golden ratio and perspectives. Those pillars have been diminished since the creation of photography in 1839, so a way for me to have a return-to-sender. Although 16th century painters were already using camera Obscura, to slip inside the camera case, their canvas as a negative film.
I think my work is the result of my 30-year exposure to these eclectic trends, environment and technics resulting in an “electric psyché Neo Baroque” style. Simple, isn’t it?
- The intimacy in the eyes of your subjects is striking. Do you seek to form a connection with every person you photograph?
I like to have an intimate approach. Being able to show the subjects’ intimacy requires a lot of attention in order tell their own and personal story through the final photo. Choices of the location, their objects part of their daily life, their gestures, rhythms and sometimes their silence are essentials. This is why my work can be seen as anecdotal as I photograph life wherever I am but with attitude and a different style!
Talking often helps the photographer and the subject to reveal the emotions and symbols that populate everyday life. The real link is the unique encounter between the two and the brief relationship and connection that they create. Their gaze and face sometimes have nothing to do with the person photographed, but under a different light then it reveals another entity. As Nakamura Fukusuke, an actor from the Tokyo’s Kabuki Theater, highlighted to me after taking his portrait, we could see his face also appearing on his shoulder by the way he moved during the session.
However, this second face was looking more like his father, actor of the same theater in the past. Father and son shared the same job, theater, dressing room, stage at different time but it looks like they were both there united in one portrait. Almost like if his spirit as well as the spirit of each Kabuki actors were haunting the place.
- What is one of the most memorable photos you’ve ever taken? Can you share the story behind it?
Chance and encounters are the engine. Each moment has its story and magic like the above story at the Tokyo’s Kabuki Theater. I remember another special meeting taking place after a concert in in Paris where a group of Aborigines were performing. It was the first time they ventured out of their village. They did not know anything about photo and even less about my technique that plunged them into the dark. They remained extremely focused on the camera lens. One of them began humming songs as if to amplify the energy of this psychic session.
It was a timeless and strong connection with the spirits they represent. It allowed fluidity in the realization of the final piece, sometimes better than with some people informed on the subject, accustomed to photography, who have the desire to be photographed by me but ultimately find themselves panicking when I gesticulate in the dark with my lamps. Once again the connection is key.
- You are currently taking part in the Artist in Residence programme of One & Only Reethi Rah. Guests have the opportunity to learn about portrait photography from you. If there is one thing you hope for students to take away from your teachings, what would it be?
When I was offered the opportunity by Martin Gerlier, the art consultant for One And Only Reethi Rah of being part of this amazing Artist in residence I thought right away of sharing knowledge and experiences with the guests especially the children. Art is awakening and sometimes therapeutic, a great way to connect with people and let go of their masks. I hope with my technique people will learn to let go again and just feel the energy surrounding us all.
- Many of your subjects appear ghostly and mysterious in your work. Why do you choose to depict them this way?
As I mentioned before, my chiaroscuro work accentuates the expressionist side of my images but not only. There is a psychic approach you can compare to the surrealist Henri Michaux. I use a form of “automatic writing,” surrendering to the spirits of places and people who are connected to be guided and trying to capture the quintessence thanks to the camera that has been the best tool to use in this process. Maybe I open the door of our world to those spirits. It is like these immaterial spirits could influence our world and try to materialize themselves through our senses, our bodies … sense, feel, enjoy.
- Your style of photography is distinct and recognizable. What was the process of finding your creative style like?
Today more than ever, we want to control everything and photo process let you control what you want to show. Personally, I use photography as an easel; the kind of witness of a mediumship trance.
My work is the result of a 30-year artistic life using the conscious and the unconscious. I do not know what has nourished and energized me the most between painting, street art or video. Of course music and definitely a certain philosophy of life influenced and supported me in my work.
Moreover, I am convinced that everything can be recycled. I don’t believe in good or bad but only different points of view depending on how we digest all these. Everything has a meaning but we do not always see its interconnections. What motivates me and influences me is this Quantum embroidery.