Gilles Dallière by Carole Schmitz

Gilles Dalliere : The vision of an aestheticized reality

After spending two years at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Saint-Etienne, Gilles Dalliere is particularly interested in architecture and decoration: he learns to draw precise geometries at the Camondo school in Paris. He became an interior architect and designer, and joined the team of decorator Yves Taralon in the 1980s. Taralon taught him the meaning of the word “decor”, that of luxury and above all that of the ephemeral. In the 1990s, he became a stylist, journalist, deputy editor and style director of Maison Française magazine. He has accompanied the greatest lifestyle photographers with his experience and his vision through his reports. In the 2000s, his vision opened up when he added to his journalistic activities the artistic direction of Forestier as a designer. A tireless traveler, he photographs the world around him, the countries he crosses, keeping track of his fascinations and his wanderings. Photography becomes his anchor, the visual and sound universe that accompanies him today. Not a single image is indifferent or hazardous. He likes to seize the moment, to live life in the present with an eye that sees an aestheticized reality in black and white.

Instagram: @gillesdalliere

What was your first photographic breakthrough?
Gilles Dalliere: When I started designing sets as style director for Maison Française magazine and worked with top lifestyle photographers in the 1980s.

The image man who inspires you?
Gilles Dalliere: Pentti Sammallahti, for the poetry, the finesse of his grays, the density of his blacks, and the delicacy that emerges from the surface of his photographs.

© Pentti Sammallahti

What image would you like us to make?
Gilles Dalliere: The two little girls descending, one behind the other, identical to each other, one of the thousand steps that lead to the port of Valparaíso, in 1957, by Sergio Larrain.

©Sergio Larrain

Which moved you the most?
Gilles Dalliere: The soldier behind a shield in Northern Ireland by Philip Jones Griffiths in 1973. It is a young face behind a scratched surface, a helmet on his head and two shadow areas where his eyes should be. The image is disturbing, it has an enigmatic force.

© Philip Jones Griffiths

What about the one that made you angry?
Gilles Dalliere: All the violent or vulgar images that revolve around a symbolic representation of sexuality and perversity, and there are a lot of them today.

Is there a keyframe in your personal pantheon?
Gilles Dalliere: Certain still lifes by Josef Sudek, but above all all the images by Chema Madoz, who has a knack for tearing up conventions. He diverts ordinary everyday objects with extreme graphic rigor, and his black and white compositions deploy an imaginary world that radically questions our sense of perception. His style inspired me to create the “Jean Cocteau” tableware collection for Raynaud porcelain.

© Chema Madoz

What qualities do you need to be a good photographer?
Gilles Dalliere: Curiosity, attention to detail and patience.

What is the perfect image for you, if it exists?
Gilles Dalliere: An angle of reflection, mystery, composition, balance and black and white.

Art Deco movement, staircase of the Martel hotel, rue Mallet-Stevens, Paris, Robert Mallet-Stevens (1927), 2010 © Gilles Dallière

Who would you like to photograph?
Gilles Dalliere: Marcel Mangel, the Marceau mime. Not for the gesture, but for the expression of his white clown face highlighted in black, signature of Bip, his emblematic mute character. He died on September 22, 2007.

An essential photo book?
Gilles Dalliere: STEICHEN, A Photographic Epic, edited by Todd Brandow and William A. Ewing. One of the most prolific, influential and controversial figures in the history of photography. Portrait, nude, fashion photography, natural or urban landscapes, dance, theatre, war photography, advertising, still life, no genre escapes his innovative gaze.

What camera did you start with?
Gilles Dalliere: A Canon EOS 5D

Which one do you use today?
Gilles Dalliere: A LEICA M10-R

Your favorite drug?
Gilles Dalliere: Walking, more than 20,000 steps per day.

The best way to disconnect
Gilles Dalliere: Listen to music. I have a wide range of tastes and don’t hesitate to dip into different genres without being tied to just one. To be eclectic is to be a traveler, one of my many passions. Each style of music is a culture, a richness that feeds my inspiration.

What is your greatest quality?
Gilles Dalliere: Dedication and determination.

A photo to illustrate a new post?
Gilles Dalliere: The images of JR, a photographer very involved in humanitarian causes and who continues to shake up the international art scene.

© J.R.

What job would you rather not have?
Gilles Dalliere: My father was an industrialist. I liked the man, but not his work.

What is your biggest extravaganza as a photographer?
Gilles Dalliere: I have no extravagance. For me, the most important thing is a carefully crafted staging that creates mystery, or a poetic approach that makes present what is not visible to the naked eye.

What values ​​do you want to share through your images?
Gilles Dalliere: Self-discipline and patience are the values ​​that I wish to share through the images of my light/dark series. Ten revealing photographs where the protective shadow envelops an infinity of gradients, the vanishing point being the light which, like love, sets the bewitching tone.

What city, country or culture would you like to discover?
Gilles Dalliere: Iran, Egypt and Ethiopia. Three countries that multiply the extremes.

The place you never get tired of?
Gilles Dalliere: The Nissim de Camondo Museum. I studied interior design there, and today it’s almost like home.

© Gilles Dalliere

What is your biggest regret?
Gilles Dalliere: Not having accompanied my mother to the end of her life.

Instagram, Tik Tok or Snapchat?
Gilles Dalliere: instagram

color or black and white?
Gilles Dalliere: Obviously black and white, but sometimes a desaturated contrast works for me.

The courtyard, the Biehn garden, Fez, Morocco, 2020 © Gilles Dallière

Daylight or artificial light?
Gilles Dalliere: I prefer daylight.

What do you think is the most photogenic city?
Gilles Dalliere: I went to India twice a year for fourteen years. Considered one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, the spiritual capital of India, Vârânasî (Benarès), is for me the most photogenic. He is the actor of all things. Between places, gods, men and chance, he challenges the eye and reason. So many temples, palaces, riches, miseries, languages, customs, beliefs, activities – so much past in the present – ​​and all these people who are one!

The place of death, Varanasi, India, 2008 © Gilles Dallière

If God existed, would you ask him to pose for you, or would you take a selfie with him?
Gilles Dalliere: No more. I wouldn’t even dare disturb him, because he has so much to deal with.

Which picture do you think represents the current state of the world?
Gilles Dalliere: The portrait of the little boy on the cover of the book “Instants donnes”, and the portrait of all the women and men crossed between Madras in India and Matara in Sri Lanka, photographed after the 2004 tsunami by Thierry Arensma. And to quote an extract from Jean-Claude Carrière’s preface, “they are there, we see them, and our knowledge of the world, always threatened by the weakening or even the loss of our memory, casts a long shadow behind them, we now know the origin, and also a noise. We know what awaits them and, despite ourselves, we provide the invisible. The photograph is only a moment.

©Thierry Arensma

What if everything had to be redone?
Gilles Dalliere: I would start with the photo.

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