Head On Photo Festival: Portraits et Icônes by Philippe Vermès

Philippe Vermès, a prominent  Normand French photographer-portraitist-- working in Europe and the United States, has used his large format 4 X 5 wooden camera and Polaroid 55 film to take portraits rich in detail--close up observations that stem from two traditions one photographic, and the other painterly.

 As Jean Pierre Lavignes, director of the international Galerie Lavignes-Bastille in Paris wrote during Vermès' show, 

"There is no sensationalism, no need to surprise, simply a desire to show his subject without props.  Like the illustrious photographer, Cartier Bresson, Vermès expresses his photographic vision.

One of the characteristics of the portraits of Philippe Vermès is never to present a back drop, an environment.  All his grays and blacks mix into one uniform background color.    

Guy Mandery, an eminent French photography critic and writer describes Vermès black and white  portraiture in a colorful way:

"In olden days when the mason was about to seal the final stone of a new house, he would slip a coin, an emblem, a certificate between two stones to give the building an identity, a uniqueness.

Likewise Philippe Vermès accomplishes a similar gesture with his classical portraits-- an extremely difficult form of classicism: rigorous, discreet, never trendy.

Here is an art form of vibrant sensitivity."