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By Richard Dumas
Paradoxically, the contemporary era, where self-image plays such an important role, has only produced a handful of masters of portraiture. Richard Dumas is one of them. Like his great predecessor Richard Avedon, he considers that a portrait is the image of a person who is aware of being photographed, and that the person’s reaction to this experience is as important as their clothes or appearance. Richard Dumas never “steals” photographs: always elegant and discreet, he stays for an hour or an afternoon, chatting to his models and waiting for an expression or gesture to catch his eye.
He usually works with a traditional medium-format camera, and develops and prints his own photographs. This traditional approach to photography might make Richard Dumas appear to be a classicist; if he avoids this; it is because he is less interested in depicting his model than in recording the truth of the instant. Where others always apply the same strict protocol, he adapts to the situation, the location, and the available light, producing a wide variety of photographs within a single aesthetic framework.
The series presented here comprises portraits of Mediterranean film personalities, actors and directors taken between 1992 and 2015, often at the Cannes Film Festival. They demonstrate not only Dumas’ taste for sharp contrast and interiority, but also his lightness of touch: he sets forth his subjects without ever trying to interpret them. Probably because he never imposes a preconceived idea of his model, these portraits are at once open, mysterious, and inexhaustible. Some of them, like the portrait of an absent-looking Antonioni with his wife delicately supporting his head, are very moving indeed.
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