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Indepth Arts News:

"Jean-Luc Mylayne"
1999-12-03 until 2000-01-29
Photographer's Gallery
London, , UK United Kingdom

Since 1976, French artist Jean-Luc Mylayne has led a nomadic life, travelling for weeks and months on end in search of his photographic subjects - ordinary, commonplace birds such as robins and sparrows, kingfishers and starlings.

Mylayne's work bears little relation to the images of wildlife photographers, although he has, by necessity, a deep knowledge of ornithology. He does not pursue his prey with a telephoto lens, and is not searching for the exotic or the unusual. He has produced fewer than 150 photographs - each unique - during his life. This is unsurprising given that every image, although recorded in a split second, in fact embodies months, sometimes years of patient work, watching and waiting. Artist and bird have to be perfectly and intimately acquainted before the portrait can be captured.

Mylayne describes the bird as the 'actor' to his 'director'. And like a film director, every aspect of the scene has been carefully conceived beforehand in his mind - the quality of light (often artificial), the time of day, the season, the composition of the landscape elements - leaving only the bird's presence to complete the picture. As the bird flies into the frame to assume its designated position, the shutter clicks, and the photograph, perhaps a year after conception, is finally finished.

The intense proximity of Mylayne to his subject is clear when, in some photographs, you catch his image reflected back in the bird's eye. At other times, the bird is partially obscured by foliage, caught in mid-flight, or tiny within the frame, so that you struggle to find it hidden within its natural habitat.

At heart, Jean-Luc Mylayne's art is a conceptual project which addresses the philosophical and experiential phenomenon of time. For Mylayne, humanity has a special sensitivity to time, which distinguishes us from the animal world, summoned in his use of the word kairiciform derived from the Greek 'kairos'. Time is of course also central to photography. And Jean-Luc Mylayne's photography is unique in the richness of its temporal range in that the drama of the instant arises from an intense and protracted absorption in the details of the natural world.

Kate Bush

Senior Programmer

This is the first exhibition by Jean-Luc Mylayne in the United Kingdom and includes a selection of work from the last twenty years.

Jean-Luc Mylayne was born in Amiens in 1946. He has had major solo exhibitions at Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York, Museé d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and the Museé d'Art Moderne, Saint-Étienne and has been included in important group exhibitions such as Zeichen und Wunder at the Kunsthaus Zurich, and Terra Incognita at the Neues Museum Weserburg, Bremen.

Supported by: -Association Francaise d'Action Artistique- Ministère des Affaires Étrangères

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