Texts in English and Italian
In his retrospective Patrick Mimran (Paris, 1956) is presenting forty years of photographs, from early attempts, taken when he was only just fifteen, to images from his recent series, several of them milestones (Urban Samples, Paris, 2009; Temple Steps, Miami, 2010). This ensemble explores a singular world that is at once familiar and strange.
In his photographs Patrick Mimran prefers to agglomerate, to mix and even hybridise. Where modernist practice selects and makes demonstrative choices, working with lessness, Mimran happily accumulates, mixes and mashes. For him, to photograph is to visually compose. And also, if necessary, to engage in a meticulous process of post-production in order to achieve the required image. Mimran can not be confined by one form of expression and continually pushes to combine various media whenever possible. He conflates images in final compositions which are full of symbols of our contemporary reality. They deal with different themes as life and death, religion, beauty, sex, mixing together several languages and fields. Some images, for example, refer to the Bellmer’s dolls, others to the language of advertising, or to traditional religious compositions.
The title of the retrospective, "Symbols as symptoms", highlights this salient fact: the form, which is never gratuitous, carries latent messages. The symbols that Mimran pins down in his images (showing beauty, youth, mastery and violence presented as an entertaining show, of happiness guaranteed by consumption, etc.) are first and foremost the symptoms of our modern reality. His attitude is essentially positive and usually humorous, as he steadily observes the general themes of humanity - life, death, beauty, sexuality - through bright colors, sexy compositions, and playful words, sometimes with unsuspected and provocative violence.