Eric Marrian was born in 1959. In 2003, he decided to come back to his first love that was photography, a subject he hesitated to turn into a career in the end of his Architectural Studies. At this time, he started a series on Saint Malo, then turned to studio photography. In 2005, he started a studio series produced in large and medium format based on a graphic and surrealist approach of the nude. This process will lead to the birth of the Carré Blanc series which he will never let go of. As an asexual representation of the nude art photography and to shape a purely graphic representation, architectured and devoid of erotic tension, this series claims to be ascetic and unsensualized. Through this art and its function, he strives to make the viewer forget its primary function by reminding him only its graphic function while creating this surrealistic dimension. In Eric Marrian’s work, the model is partial, minimal and infinite.
Curves and lines become absolute and disproportionate as they spread out of the physical frame, of the surrounding space, in a cold aesthetic, as a desire to pare down the body, to bring it back to a state of matter, raw and inert, in order to define it and model it better. Bodies are thus shaped modeled as if by a sculptor, laughing at a cheated spectator, confusing him on purpose to better serve him. He won the 2006 prize of the European Festival of Nude Photography in Arles. He continues this year, finding new inspirations as months go by. This work is now recognized worldwide and has been exhibited and published many times in France and abroad. Famous and followed by many advertisers, it cultivates a critical eye on the fashion world, signing its first op-eds in 2010. In the year 2011, he started a new project based on the use of large format color snapshots. He is also the ambassador of the Fuji House for the X digital camera and Instax products.
How did the Carré Blanc series emerge ?
Like many others I started by doing photo report, which is the best way to progress. However, I had been tempted by the formality of the studio for a long time and I finally gave in to it. I thus got closer to a photography club through which I was able to forge a bond with many photographers. As such, I started to work in the photography room. This new technical choice requires de facto a change of methodology with a more formal approach of the picture. From the first tests carried out, I quickly focused on this graphic research, on the very particular tones which are today proper to this series, with this very light beige and this absolute black, shades which enable me to move away from the common canons of the nude art photography. I am indeed not really interested in the sexual or erotic connotation we see in the majority of the nude approaches. Now, finding new ways in this field isn’t that easy. If this series came so naturally, without really thinking of what had been done, I still had recognized references in this field: Man Ray, Eikoh Hosoe, or Harry Callahan, to name only the most famous of them. What was surprising was to see that this approach led to pictures which repeated themselves throughout the years. I now feel all the more comfortable as this series gathers a lot of restraints of creation: the use of a limited colorimetry, the square format, etc... Having those boundaries frames your work but, at the same time, it is an endless source of inspiration. I did another shoot a couple of days ago after a few months break, and it was instantaneous. You talk to a model as she is starting to take the pose and you stop her very fast to freeze a picture you have never done before, even though I have been working on this series for ten years...
How would you define elegance ?
For me, this word is meaningless when you attach it to an artistic expression. It could be a nude photo from Robert Mapplethorpe, for example, whereas other people would be scandalized seeing his work. If I have to use this word, I could link it to the work of Pierre and Gilles who have a vision which I found very sophisticated, with openly admitted references to art history combined with a very rich rhetoric. I think that is where elegance lies for me.
Do you claim a desexualization of your photography ?
First and foremost, I take responsibility for surrealist interpretation. In absolute terms, you can center a female genitals in a close-up and create a picture which leads you exclusively to a graphic perception. You are not seeing the subject anymore but you are seeing what the author wanted to show you. On the contrary you can formalize a very crude picture with completely trifling body parts. Ask a woman to be on her knees and to put her shoulders down on the ground. If your take a picture of this back at this very moment, you will get the perfect picture of a phallus. Pierre Louÿs was the first to make this picture. Man Ray did it too with Lee Miller I think and we regularly find reinterpretations. Finally, instead of desexualization, we should talk about denaturation, the body being rather integrated as a writing tool. And then, it is up to the author to tell his own story, whichever it is...
- Meet Eric Marrian in Normal Magazine n°5-