The Candace Dwan Gallery is pleased to present Secrets and Shadows, the photographs of Olivier Meriel opening on October 28th. Secrets and Shadows will be the gallery's final exhibition.
In an essay by David Kleinberg-Levin, the author states that Meriel "confronts the experience of beauty with something dark, ominous, frightening: something portending storm, catastrophe, even death." Indeed, the largely dark and heavy atmosphere in Meriel's beautiful images of the French northern Atlantic coast summon the weight of its history with many photographs of forgotten, if sumptuous relics of the past, a heavy feeling of a religion known largely through stone, a landscape seen through heavy clouds, and a frozen sense of time.
Like Atget, the photographs are largely local documents of Meriel's native Normandy, where he lives and sets up an enormous 11 X 14 inch view camera to create single large negatives. These will produce his generous prints, rich like the landscape itself, with their great weight of silver and platinum.
Yet a poetic sensibility in his photographs, echoing the Baroque and the Romantic periods in painting, and in which "'Nature hovers between paradise and catastrophe, life and death, beauty and terror, possibility and impossibility, longing for the one, anticipating the other,"* seems to suggest that there is much more here than the eye perceives. Light seems to gather as a "source of supernaturally intense radiance", suggesting a possibility of redemption which could be inversely related to our more comfortable world of light that dispels darkness. This dramatic and lovely world is filled with mystery, secrets, and shadows.
*Rainer Maria Rilke, First Elegy
**David Kleinberg-Levin, Oliveir Meriel at the Candace Dwan Gallery