The name may make you smile, at least if you are French and if you pronounce it the French way: Gruyaert, « gruyère ». Harry Gruyaert is Belgian, from Antwerp, a Magnum photographer, master in saturated colours. Le Bal, located two steps away from Place Clichy is a non-profit organization founded in 2010 by, among others, Raymond Depardon himself, is a location for exhibitions, reflection, etc, centered on the contemporary image in all its forms – photography, video, film and the new media. A perfect location for a last exhibition before departing. The place is wide, well lit and has been designed, for the purpose of this specific exhibit, to match Gruyaert’s photography : bright deep colours on the walls, matching well the colour tones of the pictures exhibited. The photograph describes his work as « an instinctive arrangement of forms, colours, symbols, light, and motifs » and that’s what we see displayed throughout. The subjects and locations are not important. Whether it is an empty beach tent in Ostende, soldiers marching In Waterloo, the window of a café on Antwerp or a street scene in India or Egypt, the photographs of Harry Gruyaert are aesthetically well thought through (more than the instinct a modest photographer may describe) and pleasing to the eye. Beautiful colours, sharp arrangements , perfect light on a late afternoon, the so-called golden hour. Cibachrome, a technology from the past century, most people probably don’t remember it, is, of course, also for something in those rich tones on the vintage prints displayed. A modern print would probably not yield the same quality. All in all, a very pleasing experience to stroll through Gruyaert’s world. In his own words, he talks about the « instantaneous miracle of the unexpected« , another version, in my view of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s moment décisif, but yet with a different sensibility all together.

Ostend, Belgium, 1988 ©Harry Gruyaert
Waterloo, Belgium, 1981 ©Harry Gruyaert
Antwerp, Belgium, 1988 ©Harry Gruyaert
Antwerp Carnaval, Belgium, 1988 ©Harry Gruyaert
Thiruvananthapuram, India, 1989 ©Harry Gruyaert
Al Qarnah, Egypt, 1987 ©Harry Gruyaert