rbis pictus

The world in pictures. The world in motion.

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following strict safety constraints (gel and masks available on site, limited number of visitors at the same time in the gallery, appointments beforehand favoured)

Galerie Orbis pictus reopens the exhibition The face of art. Jesse A. Fernández and his models closed during the confinement period, an exhibition of photographic portraits: gelatin silver prints of 20th century artists and art world taken by Hispanic artist Jesse A. Fernández (Havana 1925 - Neuilly-sur-Seine 1986). The originality of the exhibition lies in the confrontation of these photographic portraits with major artworks of Fernández’s painter friends, most of them Spanish and Spanish-American

The face of art

Jesse A. Fernández and his models, Bacon, Dalí, Hartung, Lam, Matta, Miró, Picasso, Tàpies...
Exhibition from May 12th to July 4th, 2020

Vocational painter, free spirit and stateless humanist turned to photographer by the hazards of life, Jesse A. Fernández met most of the intellectuals and artists of the second half of the 20th century. Another stateless Parisian, Emil Cioran, once described him as “a man who could see an idea like no others”. Having gone through Spanish and Cuban political crises in his childhood, Jesse A. Fernández was a real humanist and managed to penetrate the depths of his models. Fernández had no formal training, refused to apply any studio rules, and never asked people to pose. For him, photography was like drawing.

Fernández wanted to make a book dedicated to painters in which each would put their signature like their own calligraph. But death, in the form of a heart attack, entered the dark room before him.

Galerie Orbis pictus will unveil part of this unborn project through an exclusive showcase of these original calligraphs (Cardenas, Cuevas, Lam, Miró, Saura, Tàpies...) along with portraits taken on the spot thanks to the artists’ friendly relationship with the photographer. To complete and expand on Jesse A. Fernández’s project, the gallery wants to revive the art world of his time by presenting works by some of the great artists he rubbed shoulders with.

Jesse A. Fernández (1925-1986)

Cuban painter and photographer of Spanish origin, long resident in the United States (of which he took nationality) then in France, Jesse A. Fernández made his living and gained notoriety with his portraits of personalities, politicians, writers and artists of all continents. This great traveller, cosmopolitan and highly educated character, felt at home everywhere and seemed to have met everyone who mattered in the 20th century. In his fabulous gallery, it is possible to admire the artists from every angle: in their studios, but also in galleries, cafes, streets...

I am looking for the human side, shot without any lighting masking natural light. I always compose with the intimate universe of the person. I'm looking for the relationship between the subject and his living environment. On other occasions I use the streets and walls, which I find to be the best studio. I see the author and his work as one entity...

My working method corresponds to that of those photographers who consider that photography implies an ethics, which obliges me to be as faithful as possible to the reality around us and to treat the model with the greatest respect. I'm not trying to change the personality of the model, nor to alter the environment in which he evolves. Thus, the rejection of any pictorial technique applies to photography. To make it short, I care about the person…

Jesse A. Fernández

© Estate Jesse A. Fernández / collection F. Mazin Fernández