This is what is meant by “fine prints.” That is, to appreciate Denis Brihat’s photographs of flowers, vegetables and fruits you have to see his actual prints. The colors he achieves are so delicate that no reproduction, say in a newspaper rendering or an online digital image, adequately captures them. Mr. Brihat (b. 1928) moved to Provence from Paris in 1958 and lived in seclusion on the Plateau des Claparèdes. There he studied nature and perfected his printing techniques. The time-consuming processes involve toning the prints with minerals—salts of silver, gold, sodium, iron and uranium, among others.
Most of the works on display at Alexander are extreme close-ups of a single flower, fruit or vegetable and, in some instances, just part of one. “Pavot (Poppy)” (1999) is 16 by 20 inches, the entire frame filled with the one flower set against a white background. The poppy’s petals are elegant but fragile, and seem translucent; the reddish color modulates through a wide range of shades, the result of gold toning. The effect is very pleasurable.
Mr. Brihat paid the same attention to a black tulip, a ranunculus, a chrysanthemum, an orchid, a gardenia, an amaryllis and a hibiscus. His speckled white pear is delicate and erotic. “La peau et les racines de l’oignon (Skin and Roots of Onion)” (2002) is an extreme example of Mr. Brihat’s ability to wrench beauty from meager materials; striations show clearly on the thin bits of onion skin, whose coppery tones are set off against the opaque black of the roots.
By WILLIAM MEYERS