André Pieyre de Mandiargues par Jean-Baptiste Huynh (2009)

Hospice Saint-Roch Museum - Issoudun, France
From 20 Jun 2009
To 20 Sep 2009

The Hospice Saint-Roch Museum in Issoudun presented an exhibition of 37 photographs by Jean-Baptiste Huynh from June 19 through September 20, 2009. In 1985, young photographer Jean-Baptiste Huynh met renowned writer André Pieyre de Mandiargues to take his portrait. This encounter inspired a longstanding friendship and regular visits to his apartment on the Rue de Sévigné in Paris. Around ten years later, a reunion with Sibylle Pieyre de Mandiargues, the writer’s daughter, saw Jean-Baptiste Huynh rediscover this apartment from a different perspective, infused with the late writer’s enduring presence.

Bearing witness to the writer’s Surrealist vision, Jean-Baptiste Huynh used photographs of the apartment to retrace his enigmatic life, portraying a sort of secret museum steeped in dreams in which each object is tied to imagination and fantasy. These previously unseen prints were presented in the Léonor Fini salon, the room in the museum devoted to André Pieyre de Mandiargues’ Italian partner with whom he had shared part of his life.

A second adjoining room features large-format photos (120 x 120 cm), mostly from the latest series by Jean-Baptiste Huynh. Representing a passing from the poet’s world to the artist’s new photographic research, these prints serve as a breadcrumb trail uniting the subjects and sources of inspiration shared by both artists. The photographs of meteorites and prehistoric stones displayed in this exhibition are akin to sculpted talismans whose shadows, colors, curves, and shimmers hide endless mysteries. Their moving presence begs a question of humanity and its relationship with the infinite and our origins. The photographs of insects are nothing short of natural living architectures, paying tribute to the daring and balance at work within nature. Meanwhile, the images of burned insects stand as testament to the persistence of beauty despite the ordeal of the fire.

Twenty years separate the two ensembles. The first demonstrates a work of youth born of a precious, unique encounter. The second outlines a more contemporary work, affirming the artist’s own, more personal expression. This exhibition was part of the centenary of the birth of writer and poet André Pieyre de Mandiargues.