Images and moods
For as long as he remembers, Pépé Pax has felt fascinated by photography. As an adolescent he began experimenting with light and with light-sensitive materials. The countless hours spent in the darkroom and the countless developed prints sharpened his eye in the discipline of direct, solid and precise observation.
The Fine Arts Section of the École des Arts et Métiers in Luxembourg was where he began studying photographic techniques in 1974. He would spend a year and a half getting familiar with the field at a photographic studio before resuming his studies at the École des Arts et Métiers, graduating in 1977. He went on to have a career as a graphic designer at various communication agencies over almost three decades, yet he never abandoned his early passion. Thus, in 2014, it was almost self-evident that he should switch careers and become an independent artist.
Since then Pépé Pax has shown a rich array of his photographic works to the public. Using processes similar to the ones in the darkroom of old, he opts for reinforcing the details that the human being cannot observe with a naked eye. Thus his photographic works tend to capture the infiniteness of natural phenomena that will be revealed only to those who spare the time to observe nature.
Since autumn of 2015, he exhibited his impressions of a solitary walker roaming through Bulgaria, Crete, Turkey, Belgium and Germany. Pépé Pax uses these landscapes and panoramic vistas privileging the black-and-white to record the atmosphere or ambience of a place. Often devoid of human presence, the images are frozen instants, fragments of timeless nature. The artist gladly admits that he has had an emotionally visceral response, a tingling, when faced with a landscape – one that his lens is about to capture. Literally an image hunter, he has walked unflinchingly for miles, looking for a place, a site, a beautiful light effect or an ephemeral evanescent metamorphosis of nature.
Here is the quintessential Pépé Pax, carrying his camera slung over his shoulder everywhere and at all times, since it is surely an extension of his spirit. His camera reveals elements the eye cannot see; he sports with the disjunction between reality and texture and takes us to a contemplative and intellectual higher ground.
To obtain results more suited to his perception, he uses the classical filters of black-and-white photography (polarising filter, infrared, red, orange, yellow and green) in order to approximate his own view of lights and contrasts, while reducing drastically any intervention after the shooting of the frame.
In his recent works Pépé Pax displays a more conceptual and graphic aspect to his art. Indeed, he has always captured remarkable places, homed in on lighting phenomena, enjoyed walking along a shore to catch the wrinkles that the tide has left on the sand, yet we can sense in these new images a more sensitive dialogue between the natural element and the trace of human presence, the lasting and the ephemeral, the contemplative expanse of the image and the rigour of its composition. It is perhaps here that the poetic quality of his art triumphs, as the finite and the infinite come together in front of our eyes.