GAGG Interview

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G.A.G.G. Artist Interview: In which Michel Cadart talks about photography, nudes, and schools me in French

Hey, this monthís G.A.G. G. artist is Michel Cadart. Michel is an old friend of ours, and a very talented photographer. His collection, MDK: Dark & Light, highlight texture, shadow, light, and lines, while showing us a genuine sort of sweetness and joy in the human form. I was lucky enough to catch up with Michel to ask him about photography and the creative soul, and, of course, to get some pointers on my French.

Arys Palen: Thank you very much, Michel, for the interview.
Michel Cadart: Oh, I thank you !
AP: Where are you located, if you donít mind the question.
MC: Do you mean where I live? I live in France, more precisely in the north of France, where France is the nearest to England.
AP: Iíve heard itís quite beautiful there.
MC: Itís a nice region. My house is on the cliff and from my windows I can see the English coasts when the weather is clear
AP: Oh! Sounds very artsy and beautiful. (laughs)
AP: How did you get started with photography?

MC: When I was sixteen I got a small plastic camera which I used to shoot horses and sunsets. Then I read
Edouard Boubatís book about photography and it made me want to try it a little further.
AP: Wow, that sounds like a simple and straightforward beginning.
MC: I bought a Lubitel (a 6x 6 Russian camera).
AP: When you were sixteen?

MC: Yes when I was sixteen, the Lubitel. It costs about 100 French francs. It means about 20 US$. Then, when I was 18, my first Nikon.
AP: So photography made quite an impact on you early, it seems. Was it the cameras that drew you in? Or the images? Initially, I mean.
MC: Overall the images. For the first time I was able to create something by myself. The camera was only a tool.
AP: Ah! I know that feeling!
AP: In the beginning how much work did you put into planning out your shots and the final images?

MC: In the beginning, the work wasnít planned out. I took pictures everywhere, at any time. It was nearly an addiction.
(Arys Palen laughs)
MC: Many shoots and not many good pics, but some though
AP: How consciously were you using this addiction to refine your style and eye?
MC: I was ďtryingĒ, experimenting. I wanted to know what exactly I could expect from this media. I learned classical photography rules, and techniques, but soon transgressed them and tried to go further.
AP: (laughs) As any good creative person has a responsibility to do!
MC:
Now, the experimentation is much less technical.
AP: Do you only shoot in black and white?
MC: Now, I only use black and white traditional argentic technique. Before, it happened that I used color photography, but itís not my [style], now.
AP:
I can see why, your images are beautiful.
MC: Thank you. My interest in these pictures is to capture, forms, lights, textures and, of course, a part of the humanity of the model.
AP: You capture an innocence and sensitivity in the black and white that the color may distract.
AP: How did you get started doing nudes?

MC: My first nude pictures, except some made with girlfriends when I was a student, were made at a Beaux-Arts school. It was very new for me. I think, as many artists, I was attracted by the nude human body.
AP: HmmÖ Is it your preferred image for photos? I know your last exhibit for GAGG was another set of nudes.
(Last Julyís Paysage de corps Ė Body Scenery exhibit.)
MC: Itís my current work. I donít say Iíll only make nude pictures for the rest of my life, but now and for the last few years, itís what Iím working on. Thereís so much to do around a human body. Iíd love to shoot male nudes too, but itís much more difficult to find male models
AP: Are nudes easier or harder to shoot?
MC: Itís a hard discipline. Nude pictures can easily look harsh.
AP: When you start a project do you already have it planned out in your mind?
MC: Now I can say yes. It hasnít always been true before. But now, I know what I want to get and I explain to the model what we are working for. The model must be involved in the project [as well or] it doesnít work.
AP: So your images are deliberate. Do you still just go out and shoot for the sake of shooting?
MC: Of course, but much less than a few years ago.
AP: Just for fun? Or do you get some good images then too? (laughs)
MC: I can get very good images that way too. When I find a subject which [speaks] to my mind ; Iíll show you, one day, a set of pics I made of wrecked boats.
AP: Oooh! Sounds interesting. Iíll hold you to that!
AP: During your shoots, do you find you still get happy accidents?

MC: What do you mean?
AP: Do you still get accidental shots that you didnít expect, but are better, maybe, than what you initially had in mind?
MC: When I work in a studio, for nude pictures, never. Iím very slow when I shoot. I know exactly what I want. It happens that I get ďbadĒ accidents by not getting exactly what I wanted
AP: I admire your precision.
(MC smiles)
AP: How long have you been doing this? If you donít mind me askingÖ
MC: Photography? I told you since I was sixteen, so youíre asking my age? (laughs)
AP: (laughs) No, just trying to get an idea of how long youíve been shooting. Experience and all. But thatís fine [if you'd rather not say]. Your mystery is part of your charm!
MC: No problem. Iím 51 so Iíve been doing this for 35 ans years, sorry.
AP: (laughs) No problem, my French is coming along. Iím starting lessons soon.
MC: Good!
AP: Who are some of your favorite artists and photographers? Some of your influences.
MC: Oh, thatís easy to say: Edouard Boubat, Jean-loup Sieff, Fred Aufray, and in a different style Helmut Newton.
AP: Oh! I love Helmut Newtonís stuff as well.
MC: And Iím not shy to say that I loved David Hamilton, too, when I was younger. David Hamiltonís work has been decried, but I think that he inspired a whole generation.
AP: o.0 I am not familiar. I will have to look him up. At least not familiar by name
MC: He photographed very young girls with softener filters on his camera
AP: Ah. Okay, yes, I think I have seen his work. I may have some around the house in a photography book somewhere.
MC: it was in the 70ís. That was allowed. Now, heíd be called a pedophile ! (laughs)
AP: Art is a sensitive area for some. o.0
MC: Do you know that Lewis Caroll used to make nude pictures of little girls?
AP: Yes, I had read that. (laughs) He had lots of issues from a modern perspective, though.
AP: How do you usually discover new art?
MC: By the ďbouche ŗ oreille.Ē I donít know the English expression for this. By groups notices
AP: Word of mouth?
MC: Word of mouth, it may be that.
AP: Bouche is mouth, yes?
MC: Right! and Oreille is ear. ďMouth to ear.Ē It means what one hears from somebody else. And a few by exploration.
AP: Well, I thank you for taking the time to talk to me about art and creativity and such.
MC: Thanks for your interest in me and in my work, Arys.