Charles-Henry Bédué illustrates the American West Paradoxe

Charles Henry Bédué L’Amour Monstre Photography 14

Charles-Henry Bédué was born in Toulouse in 1980.

Diplomate of a master degree in 2003 from the visual art school Academy Julian ESAG Penninghen in Paris, he moved to China in Shanghai then Beijing, from 2007 to 2014. There, he worked as a photographer, as much for advertising companies as a reporter or fashion photographer, for magazines as Vogues, Numéro, or I Look.

In 2011, Charles-Henry decided to focus more on the field of reportage photography to extract from a diligent and pure observation of his daily life, symbolic images located on the border of figurative and abstract. Introspection, reading, travel; the appearances, what it says, it hides; the question of border, of the norm, of the golden mean, orientate his life and his art since the beginning. In his artistic process, collecting images, meditating on them, is not an end in itself. It is a way to unite with oneself, then to unite with others by transmitting them.

This relationship between an image, an acquirer, and his self has become a creative process called Virtuous Circle, and an eponym exhibition from November 2016/January 2017, at The Finnish Museum of Photography in Helsinki. In September, he moved to Las Vegas and Los Angeles where he’s based now and started the new series L’Amour Monstre about the society of the spectacle.

About ‘L’Amour Monstre’ – words by Charles-Henry Bédué:

In my work, I am deeply impassioned by observing children and artists, poets and mystics, the worlds of those affected by challenges of the psyche, for they all share the common power that innocently allows them to be inspired by the creative energies of the universe. In 2017, I collaborated with Opéra de Paris for 3 months, capturing the life of the artists at work behind the curtain, and public excitement at Palais Garnier and Opéra Bastille. The thrill of this experience pushed me to pursue this exploration of the world of entertainment, while choosing an opposite aesthetic to the one of Opéra de Paris. Also, the work environment had to be large enough for the project to be an adventure. So in 2019, I decided to spend 5 weeks in Las Vegas the following fall, then to go to Los Angeles in order to settle there.

At its origine, this work was about the relation between creative process in performing art and the kind of madness that it takes. Las Vegas appeared to my eyes as a paradox, a disgusting pleasure, a beautiful horror, an innocent falsehood. I worked with delight with artists of all kinds: chippendales, pool dancers, magicians and burlesque circus shows… It was around halloween time. Then I went in Los Angeles where the shootings replaced the shows in my reportage. I was falling in love with the city until Covid-19 happened, followed by the protests. At this point where our overheated society stopped, the shows and shooting was over everywhere, so i went out on the streets, irresistibly attracted by those who, like the artist, embody in their own way a violent force of resistance to the tragedy of life. Some of them where homeless, hobos, fishermen near the sea, wanderers, protesters… My love continued to grow while everything seemed to fall apart around me. This disproportionate feeling at a time so unusual inspired the title L’Amour Monstre, which is also the title of a novel by Louis Pawels.

During L’Amour Monstre, a revolution took place in my work with the appearance of portraits. Until then I was known to cut heads with my framing, more interested by an abstract reading of the world than a figurative one. But in this special time, the need to connect with people was greater than anything. And I then discovered that if photography could capture something true, authentic, it is only in the bottom of a person’s look that it can happens. I also understood more deeply how violence and tragedy were linked to the process of creation and imagination. As a European, the West Coast of the United States strikes me with its extreme poverty in the street, something close to the middle age time. And at the same time, Los Angeles is a city that is dazzling by its light of course, but above all by the extreme open-mindedness of its inhabitants, and the great feeling of freedom that emerges from the place. From hell to paradise, from nightmare to dream there is only one step, but I feel everywhere here an immense energy which circulates, destructive or creative according to the capacity of each one to be able to bear it. It can elevate or crush you. It’s a heady, stimulating, and frightening personal impression at the same time.

Time to read
4 min
Words by
Published on
23 September 2020
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