Didier Massard

Artificial Paradise

September 4 - October 11, 2003

The Julie Saul Gallery is pleased to announce our second solo exhibition of new photographs by French artist Didier Massard. Massard works slowly, and it has required five years since his last show here for him to complete a new cycle of work, following "Imaginary Journeys". Massard's fabricated photographs are records of elaborate studio constructions requiring meticulous craftsmanship and masterful lighting. Like a magician he conjures up fantasy worlds which have one foot in reality and the other in the imagination. The eight large scale prints in the show are all landscapes which evoke associations ranging from Shangri-la to a haunted forest. "Artificial Paradise" includes a series of trees representing the four seasons, a Japanese architectural folly, an enchanted waterfall and a mangrove forest.

Roberta Smith described Massard as having "a genius for lighting effects (with a) seamless refinement so perfect and strangeÙthat it gradually gives itself awayÙone's willingness to suspend disbelief is a measure of Mr. Massard's skill. Fastidious detail create(s) a sense of illusion and artifice that is more usual to painting, Magic Realist Painting in particular."

The sense of illusion is subtly challenged by details of scale and space. In this new work one is reminded of the enchanted landscapes of opera and classical ballet stage sets, harkening back to Massard's early experience with theater lighting and film. The most recent work, "Mangrove", is so densely filled with details that it fully requires the large format of the cibachrome prints to take it in.

A monograph was published in France of Massard's work last year by Le Passage, which is available at the gallery and a solo exhibition of his work was recently toured throughout France by FNAC. He also participated in a traveling group exhibition entitled "Constructed Realities" organized by Cooper Hewitt curator Barbara Bloemink.

Massard's work is featured in many international collections including the Musee d'Elysee in Lausanne, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, SEI Corporation, Citibank, Deutsche Bank, U.S. Trust, Reader's Digest, AXA and the Progressive Corporation.

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