Olivier Valsecchi French, b. 1979

Overview

Hasselblad Masters winner, Olivier Valsecchi uses photography as a medium to incarnate the emotions of his psyché. Directing nude models like a conductor, he orchestrates perfect fantasmagorical images where bodies, outlined in dramatic chiaroscuro, are deprived of gender or identity to be merely used as elements of a narrative.

Olivier Valsecchi initially studied music as a teenager. As he began creating cover art for his record sleeves, he became passionate and engrossed by photography. He then spent the next ten years taking portraits for his own enjoyment and mastering his skills upon entering the ETPA photography school to perfect his technical skills. His work is dark and mysterious, oozing the magic of nature, and uniquely represents the peculiar cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. As a way to translate his emotions, Valsecchi doesn't magnify one's body but rather, uses it as an empty vessel to channel his own subconsciousness, therefore compose pictures that he qualifies as self-portraits, although he doesn’t necessarily physically appear on the photos. He finds his whole working system, from visualizing a certain image to capturing the moment, to be based on his personal instinct. With his striking black and white images and almost statuesque models, Valsecchi’s work truly brings beauty and character to aspects of life that are rarely thought of as alluring.

Works
Series
Video
Biography

KLECKSOGRAPHY
Revealed to the public eye in 2010 by DUST, this series earned him the prestigious Hasselblad Masters Award two years later. He was then asked to conceive a new series on the theme : "Evoke". Hence the birth of Klecksography, organic sculptures created by symmetrically articulated bodies. Valsecchi's inspiration for this series is drawn from the works of Swiss Psychiatrist Rorschach, whose method implied using imagery created by inkstains on a piece of paper then folded into two. Where the latter used their interpretation by patients to diagnose schizophrenia or dementia, Valsecchi 's approach is the opposite.


The one he calls his interior foe - this dark side in each one of us which we try to constantly restrain - is given full freedom of expression, and the ability to overcome bodily constraints. During two months, in a derelict hangar beating to the tribal rhythms of Kate Bush'es album "the Dreaming", he pushes himself and his models over the brink of exhaustion, reaching out for total burnout. At that climactic point, the mind disincarnates itself from the body, leaving behind a mechanical flesh and bone entity, bereaved of any willpower: except that of the photographer's dictates, or , rather, those of his subconsciousness.


TIME OF WAR
Incarnation remains the main theme in Valsecchi's oeuvre. Thus he decided to dive into his DUST series once again, whilst adding a parameter to it: a soul of their own. Deliberately choosing to set the second part of his "I AM DUST" saga in a former arms factory, this autobiographic project is on the theme of incarnation and Samsara. Whereas the first part illustrated the photographer's cosmology, TIME OF WAR liberates those chaos-spawned creatures. The title, inspired by the Prado Museum's 2008 Exhibition : GOYA in Times of War, which commemorated the War of Independance, equally portrays this crying-out for emancipation. From then on, Characters have a history, and are out to conquer. Their bodies tense, each mote of muscle tissue contracts itself, shoulders heave. The primeaval ash, this very element which has transiently crossed through the cycles of life and death, seems to burst out in an explosion of effort, unless this be the final agonizing breath of these Ovidian heroes. This is about survival.

 

DRIFTING
Olivier Valsecchi's new Drifting series is a journey through art history where each picture merges the tradition of the reclining nude with the still life painting genre from Flanders. Faithfully devoted to his chiaroscuro approach of light, straightforward sense of composition and muted colour schemes, Valsecchi replaces baroque floral arrangements and the overlapping motif of Memento Mori by pale bodies, in order to create what he calls a Flesh Vanitas. His taste for eerie atmospheres draws the viewer into paradoxical tableaux where flowing movement and dumb stillness mysteriously interact.


From Korea to New York, his work never ceases to arouse the interest of the international press (Réponses Photo, FR; Le Figaro Beaux-Arts, FR; Le Monde, FR; Orlando Weekly, US; Santa Fe Art Magazine, BR; Eyemazing, ND; Zoom, IT; Rooms, UK; Blink, KR; Arte Fotografico, ES; Image in Progress, IT; Profifoto, DE; etc.) as much as that of curators (Promenades Photographiques de Vendôme, Festival Européen de la Photographie de Nu en Arles, Fotofever Paris and Brussels, Centre Atlantique de la Photographie in Brest).

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