ANIMA: The Photography of Jean-Fraçois Spricigo
January 9 - February 13, 2010
Jean-Francois Spricigo, the 2008 Laureate of the Prix de Photographie de l’Académie des Beaux-Arts, may well be the most articulate animal advocate on record. His critically acclaimed photographic series ‘anima’ documents the psychological complexity of the animal kingdom. Spricigo’s extreme sensitivity to the physical reality of each animal creates images, shot entirely in black and white, that transmit the emotional insight of movie stills.
Horses dissolve into the mists of their surrounding fields, cats study themselves in their owner’s mirror and birds echo the shapes of tree branches as they return to the sky. In Spricigo’s evocative landscapes, humans are absent and the animals speak for themselves. Astonishingly, through the artist’s provocative lens, we can see what it must feel to be one of them.
In addition to the artist’s aforementioned award, Spricigo is also the 2008 Photographer Laureate of the Fondation Belge de la Vocation and was nominated for the 2009 prize discovery at the Rencontres d’Arles. Mr. Spricigo’s work has been featured in numerous galleries throughout Europe and ‘anima’ has just concluded an extremely successful exhibition at the prestigious l’Institut de France.
The artist’s exhibition with Louis Stern Fine Arts, in conjunction with FLAX (France Los Angeles Exchange), is his initial showing in the United States.
A striking nighttime image of two leopards, one snarling in profile, the other looking warily over its shoulder, appears on posters all over Paris announcing "anima," an exhibition of photographs by Jean-Francois Spricigo.
On view at the Palais de l'Institut de France through Nov. 21 and coming to Louis Stern Fine Arts in Los Angeles in January, the show introduces a body of work produced by the young Belgian artist who won the 2008 Prix de Photographie de l'Academie des Beaux-Arts.
One of many applicants for the prestigious annual prize, Spricigo submitted eight prints and a proposal to a jury appointed by the academy. He was awarded 15,000 euros (about $22,500) to realize the project, a suite of 60 black-and-white images of animals.
What apparently impressed the judges was the artist's fresh approach to a standard subject. Neither sentimental nor anthropomorphic, his blurry, soft-edge images have a haunting, soulful quality.
Most of the cats, dogs, donkeys, goats, horses, cows and birds depicted in the pictures emerge from the dark as unexpected encounters with creatures caught in motion. Whether seen up close or at a distance, the animals confront viewers with surprising intimacy.
But evocative and immediate as his photographs may be, the artist describes them as visual memories, images that deal with the essence of nature rather than physical details.
"This is not a reflection of the relationship between man and animals," he said of his work. "I want the animals to speak for themselves."
-- Suzanne Muchnic