Boris Mikhaïlov

Art Free
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Boris Mikhailov : Paris et Arles
Courtesy de l'artiste et de la galerie Suzanne Tarasieve, Paris

Known for his raw, subversive work, Ukrainian photographer Boris Mikhaïlov is in a rather different mood for this Paris show. Not only has France replaced the habitual views of the Ukraine, but the pieces are bedecked with bright colours, daubed straight onto the photos. So what's the story?

In 1989, Mikhaïlov took advantage of the collapse of the Soviet bloc to make his first journey to the west, and to France. It was a world that he had, until then, barely been able to imagine, and his panoramic shots of Paris and Arles try to express this sense of enormity. It's also a reflection on the overwhelmed visitor that he was then, suddenyl faced with a colourful, tawdry West far from the brutal Ukraine that he struggled to document, the authorities constantly trying to block his projects.

26 years later, he has revisited the images and retouched them by hand. The artist's joy has gained nuance with time, adding in a grain of irony, visible when the newly-coloured photos take on the air of kitsch postcards, covered with gold or silver inks. It's a bittersweet reflection on a first view of the capitalist world, though it doesn't quite achieve the force or audacity of Mikhaïlov's other exhibitions.


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