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Press Release

Nailya Alexander Gallery is pleased to present The Eden of Denis Brihat, on view online Monday 5 April through Saturday 22 May 2021. This exhibition celebrates the work of the artist, photographer, and master printmaker Denis Brihat and focuses on his singular attention to the natural world, in particular the flowers, trees, and vegetables found in the area of his home and studio on the Plateau des Claparèdes in the Luberon region of Provence. 

Born in Paris in 1928, Brihat stands today as one of the last and most significant artists of his generation, renowned worldwide for both his extraordinary eye and his remarkable prints, whose vibrant hues and textures are achieved entirely by his own hand and through darkroom techniques of his own invention. Brihat achieved early success as a professional photographer in Paris, and was awarded the Prix Niépce in 1957 for his photographs taken during a year in India; but the following year, he abandoned urban life for Provence, where the rustic and isolated conditions allowed him to turn his focus to nature and to pursue his groundbreaking experiments in gelatin silver printing.

The Eden of Denis Brihat includes work from over four decades of the artist’s career and includes prints that represent the most stunning culmination of those experiments. Brihat’s striking images of onions, which have become iconic, exemplify his power to draw beauty and grace from quotidian and neglected objects; while his photographs of roses, orchids, gardenias, and other flowers reveal a palpable sensuality in both the intimacy of their composition and the exquisite texture of his prints. The colors in these photographs are achieved entirely through toning with the salts of gold, iron, selenium, vanadium, and other precious metals, which renders them both dazzling to the eye and more permanent than other types of digital or analog prints. 

This exhibition also includes some of the finest examples of Brihat’s work with photographic engraving, a technique that enhances the areas of a print with the highest silver content and adds not only subtle three-dimensionality but also substance and depth to the image. This technique reaches its apotheosis in Brihat’s images of trees and forests, where it brings to life the myriad delicate variations in tone between tree branches and foliage.

In the words of the writer Marc de Smedt, “When a city dweller arrives in the Provençal countryside and, captivated, learns to love it, his life changes. This was the case with our photographer friend. He realized, like a new Candide, that it was best to cultivate his own garden as a mirror of earthly paradise. No need to run after elusive chimeras: Eden was right there, before his eyes.

“To paraphrase a famous Zen koan; when Denis Brihat looks at a flower, the flower smiles. The same with the humble legume, the tree, the leaf, or the blade of grass. Thanks to his subtle art, he teaches us how to see nature differently. From simplicity comes wonder.”

Denis Brihat’s work has been exhibited throughout Europe and the United States for over fifty years. His photographs can be found in the collections of public and private institutions worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Center for Creative Photography, Tuscon; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Musée des Beaux Arts, Neuchâtel; the Musée Cantini, Marseille; and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the Centre Pompidou, the European House of Photography, and the National Foundation for Contemporary Art, Paris. In 1987, he was awarded the Grand Prix de la Photographie de la Ville de Paris.