He is not a photographer, but -as he defines himself- he is there for the photography, to combine a professional technique with the genuine joy of the dilettante. A dilettante in its original meaning as the Italian word “dilletaro” or “delight”, hence “the one who practices an art with the passion of a lover”. For the art itself and the pleasure that comes along this photographic art -or, rather in his case, the “photografrica” art.
Alain Paris unceasingly puts this continent on images, and during the last ten years, the major part of his production has been devoted to the Senegal. “Bush studio”, “Seetsi” and “Black Mirages” are various facets of the same passion for a world that both fascinates and moves him for its essence. And so, after a long stay in Africa, Alain Paris might return with only one or two roll-films. In his many trips to the “black” continent, he has captured only few landscapes –“ten, at the very most”-, traditional ceremonies and other “exotic” snapshots. It’s the African people who attract him, being the continent just the wide scenery where his art is best expressed.
Since 1989, Alain Paris has lived locked in his studio shooting his personal view of Africa. Here and there. In his work “Montreuil on the stage” (associated with another photographer), has shaped a surprising kaleidoscope of the African inhabitants of the village of Montreuil. The “Bush Studio” series -realized in medium-format in a daylight studio- shows his attachment to the small village of Kafountine (Casamance). And it was there where he established the first “bush’s photographs school”, in 1989.
His Africa is not the “startling Africa” we are used. It’s neither the Africa of the ethnologists, nor the poets or the journalists. It’s not modern or ancestral, poor or corrupted, infinitely happy or terribly sad. It’s, in its essence, a woman, a mother or a lover. Nude, exotic and sensual. Alain Paris invites us to take a look to the most beautiful and obvious face that Africa has to offer, and nobody else would probably be able to describe it as attractively as he does. A flat belly. The fertile womb of a mother or the tight skin of a dancer. African hands, those of an Ashanti princess of Ghana or a farmer at Diola in Casamance. A nape. An Amazon warrior of Congo or a Parisian top-model. The litheness of the bodies, the openness of a look, the purity of an Africa to which these “Black Mirages”, his last realization, refer.
Alain Paris is not only in love with Africa. Since he has invited Africa into his dark room, he could be considered… his lover.
Black Mirages (I) – Alain Paris (France, 1955)