Montreal-born artist Robert Polidori is one of the worlds leading architectural photographers, known for his unerring esthetic that communicates the essence of a place. His images of New Orleans, Havana and Chernobyl have captured international attention. But possibly his most renowned work is his series on Versailles, a project he worked on for 20 years after winning the exclusive contract to document the restoration of this iconic chateau. He captured a palpable sense of the subtle and the sensational; studies of a bygone age. Over 300 years old, colours captured by his camera are still vivid, though weary.
A tour-de-force record, the photos offer an exquisitely rendered reality that provides a new perspective on art history. Unlike Cartier-Bressons decisive moment - that incisive second when an action takes place - Polidoris approach is contemplative. His slow shutter speed captures a sense of stillness that speaks volumes. The images are soft yet crisp; details spring to the eye through a mood of nostalgia. Evocative of eras past, they are moving metaphors of time. These catalysts for states of beauty, as Polidori suggests, also brilliantly capture a sense of now: You are there, in front of a beautifully intricate wall molding that hides a secret door; staring at a stately stocking; looking at lace. History is documented, with the subject matter in each photograph listed and dated. The images become almost timeless in their poignant commentary on times lived and lost; on the inexplicable intricacies of life; yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Robert Polidori is one of the world's most acclaimed photographers of human habitats and environments. His career began in the mid 1980s when he won permission to document the restoration of the Château de Versailles, beginning a love affair with the palace that has continued to this day. He has since documented sites across the world and is currently a staff photographer for The New Yorker. He was commissioned by the magazine to photograph New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2006, and many of these images were subsequently exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Robert Polidori's first love was avant-garde film. He learnt much while working as assistant to Jonas Mekas at the Anthology Film Archives in New York, and that experience vitally shaped his approach to photography. He rejects Cartier-Bresson's notion of the "decisive moment" the perfect instant in which to capture a truth. Instead he prefers the qualities of beauty, stillness and contemplation that come from working with a large format camera and employing slow shutter speeds. He thinks of rooms as metaphors and vessels for memory - places marked by the signatures of lives past and present. Sometimes those signatures are private: One of his first projects involved taking pictures of apartments in New York's Lower East Side, shortly after their tenants had died. Sometimes they are social, historical, even ecological: He has captured the dusty grandeur of Castro's Havana (Havana, Steidl, 2001), the legacy of war in Beirut, and the devastation both inside the Chernobyl nuclear plant and in the nearby town of Pripyet (Zones of Exclusion, Steidl, 2003).
Robert Polidori lives and works in New York. He won the World Press Award in 1998, and he has twice won the Alfred Eisenstaedt Award for Magazine Photography (1999 and 2000). He has published eleven photo books, most recently After The Flood (Steidl, 2006), and a three-volume compilation of his pictures of Versailles, Robert Polidori: Parcours Museologique Revisite (Steidl, 2009). His major solo exhibitions include a mid-career retrospective at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, and his work is held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.
Galerie de Bellefeuille
, 1367 Greene Avenue 514. 933.4406. Open 7 days a week.