In the playful private world of the self, Louis Teran's portraits seek out the depths of our being: the complex twists and turns of our souls, be they brothers or enemies, bound together forever or mired in paradox. In their ever-present bodies, whose deceptively nonchalant postures and elegant attitudes are carefully studied and staged. With a sharp sense of framing, the photographer makes skilled use of light: it is reflected on the walls, shines obliquely through the room, caresses the skin, forms haloes around faces. To capture a sense of intimacy at the level of the soul itself, of naked skin, of costumes donned for the occasion. The subjects' spirit escapes, playful, poetic, introspective, always free whether it be an embodiment of the self or of an assumed role. The artist creates  a mysterious chemistry between the expression of the body and that of the mind. Neither monolithic nor equivocal, it relies on tonalities and nuances of language to achieve the subtlety of a visual narrative. Louis Teran inches forward gingerly like a tightrope walker: his photographic art flourishes in the fragility of his own strengths and in the intensity of unspoken frailties.

Louis TERAN (b.1981) lives and works in Paris. Formerly assistant to Jean-Baptiste Mondino, he has been a freelance photographer since 2008. He has worked for Italian Vogue, Casa Vogue, AD and other leading brands. In 2012 he presented his first solo show at Galerie BE-Espace.  He is currently finishing "La Chute", a personal series of photographs focusing on the angst of a human being in the throes of doubt, desperate because he is unable to achieve an absolute state of being. Another work currently in progress focuses on a boxer and combines photos and video. 


Incognito : Portraits by Louis TERAN

Galerie BE-Espace celebrates in its own way the “Mois de la Photo”. From November 5th to December 5th 2012, Brian Elliott Rowe, founder and director of the Parisian Galerie BE-ESPACE, ventures into new terrain with an exhibition of thirty prints by young photographer Louis Teran. The show features some of Teran’s most significant portraits, providing illuminating insights into the true identity of his famous or unknown subjects by revealing their surface flaws and capturing their more or less self-conscious attitudes.

Louis TERAN seeks out what makes people unique. In all his photographs and with all his models, he searches for the ‘other self’ that is able to provide him with insights into himself. An enlightened voyeur, he observes and deciphers those who pose for him, and his sharp eye records the visual secrets his subjects unwittingly share. His lens becomes the mouthpiece for silent screams, giving voice to unspoken or outspoken suffering. He prefers transparency to surface effect, referring to his photographs as dialogues where he says to his models: ‘Give me a little piece of yourself, and I’ll try to show you something about yourself you’ve never seen’. He claims to have no technicam skill but his framing is sophisticated, his lighting self-assured, his composition pure and elegant. He likes to play with materials and textures in an almost empirical way. The camera is nothing but a tool, chosen for its sensitivity and impartiality. It is like a visual travelling compagnon, an extension of the hand and the eye that allows him to create images of what he wants to see.

Teran does not give titles to his photographs, refusing to stick labels on them. Their anonymity protects them like a bodyguard, be they unknown figures or stars like Michou. But what he reveals is always faithful to the private person lurking behind the mask of fame.

Photography is never an innocent act. To get over people’s fear when faced with a camera lens or capture the ‘magic moment’ when taking pictures of camera-hungry celebrities, Louis Teran tries to create an atmosphere of trust that lends itself to the sharing of secrets. The seductive way he cajoles his subjects reassures them, and his lens is his inquisitive companion; perhaps his work is also, simply, a question of love, the feeling that makes us free, and which alone makes portraiture possible. As they make a gift of themselves and of their image, the models become partners, co-authors of a dialogue. Male or female: their sexual character is irrelevant. Men reveal their feminine side, women their masculine traits. Each person is a complete whole with countless facets, beyond the clichés of exuberant or repressed sexuality. Teran is fascinated by androgyny, and especially by the ambiguity it brings to young bodies still at the ambivalent stage of adolescence. Metamorphosis such as transvestism plunges us into the unknown, but also into the very heart of the sitter’s identity. The trick is to know how to interpret the signs. Avid and curious, the photographer seeks out the clues that help him to understand; he then highlights them and transcends them, making them into art. 

An admirer of Alfred Stieglitz, drawing his inspiration from 1920s German expressionism (Murnau, Fritz Lang), Louis Teran is first and foremost a black and white photographer. He composes his photos like film stills. He sets the stage without eroding the inner life of his subjects. Fascinated by verticals and horizontals, he works on the sitter’s pose accordingly and prefers wide angle shots. Using effects of perspective and distorsion to bring a sense of depth, he widens the field – both his own and the viewer’s – and paradoxically achieves a close-up of the sitter’s soul. Halfway between poetry and surrealism, the truth of the instant almost imperceptibly breaks the surface : the photographer is also a painter of the evanescent. The way he captures faces and chooses postures draws on painterly references and collective memory. Lucien Freud comes readily to mind: the magnetic intensity of human lives, the revelation of guarded thoughts. His prints also recalls hyper-realist paintings, with their strong evocations of texture and skin.

Teran always has a clear idea of the photograph he wants to make: he just needs to find the sitter to fit his ideal. A good photograph is one that achieves a perfect osmosis between the vision of the photographer, the character of the sitter, and the perception of the viewer. An unsuccessful photograph is one where the intention of the photographer remains unfulfilled and where the adventure has failed to unfold. Nobody has been found; no encounter has taken place.

Louis Teran was born in Paris in 1981. After his baccalauréat he went to London on a musical escapade with his rock guitar slung over his shoulder. When he returned to France, where he did various odd jobs and thought about his future, the images of the film ‘Fallen Angels’ by Wong Kar-Wai resurfaced in his memory.This was nothing short of a revelation: he now knew that it was this  unique poetic narrative, this skill of the ‘artist in motion’, that he wanted to achieve, first and foremost via photography. He did an internship with Jean-François Aloïsi to learn the rudiments of the craft, and then worked as assistant to Jean-Baptiste Mondino. He watched carefully, gaining precious knowledge and experience in the field. He observed at first hand how pure, simple, direct photography works, discovering the inspired immediacy of a photographer who focuses entirely on what is essential. Louis Teran had found his vocation. Today he is a professional photographer and a fully-fledged artist, working on themes that show how time takes its toll.