Nailya Alexander Gallery is pleased to present the special online exhibition Denis Brihat’s Onions, coinciding with the release of the new book with the same title Les oignons de Denis Brihat, published by Le Bec en l’air, Marseille. The book and our exhibition bring to light Brihat’s half-century-long passion for the dazzling beauty of the humble onion.
Born in Paris in 1928, Brihat stands today as one of the longest standing and most significant artists of his generation. Since 1958, Brihat has lived and worked in the Luberon region of Provence on the isolated Plateau des Claparèdes — a region that also served as home and inspiration for Paul Cézanne.
In the exhibition, we highlight a selection of 12 one-of-a-kind prints of iconic photographs that represent the peak of the artist’s unparalleled stylistic and technical achievements. The colors in these photographs are achieved entirely through toning with the salts of gold, iron, selenium, vanadium, and other precious metals, which renders them both dazzling to the eye and more permanent than other types of digital or analog prints. A bronze onion (1986) looks like a ruffled bird; while an onion’s skin (2006), depicted in transparent red, calls to mind the swirling skirt of a dancer. Meanwhile, the luminosity of Oignon Large (2007) transforms this quotidian object into something majestic and elegant.
The book brings together a stunning selection of his portraits of onions, offering the public a chance to discover one of the greatest adventures in the history of photography. The images are complemented by several essays, including one by art historian Michel Poivert on the theme of obsession, as well as an interview with the artist that sheds light on his singular passion.
Denis Brihat’s photographs can be found in the collections of public and private institutions worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Center for Creative Photography, Tuscon; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Musée des Beaux Arts, Neuchâtel; the Musée Cantini, Marseille; the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the Centre Pompidou, the European House of Photography, and the National Foundation for Contemporary Art, Paris. In 1987, he was awarded the Grand Prix de la Photographie de la Ville de Paris.