Monday, 8 July 2013

Arles - Caravans and Clouds

 Arles. I didn't expect it to be more than a city surviving on its connections with Van Gogh and the Romans. What a surprise. Yes it has the places Van Gogh painted. The yellow cafe surrounded by Japanese tourists taking photost.The hospital and its garden where he spent time when he was having his mental health troubles

There's an impressive Roman arena and a Roman Theatre but I didn't expect a Museum of contemporary art in an ancient building donated to the city by Picasso. It featurred an exhibition themed around clouds. What artists see and do with clouds is quite amazing.
Finally, as part of the Marseille and Provence European Capital of Culture it is hosting a maze of  photography exhibitions - over 50 individual exhibitions paying homage to past and contemporary black and white photography. I saw two which excited me. The first was a collaborative showing in a series of shopfronts and basements aroound the theme of caravans and caravan holidays. It was familiar, whimsical and both innocent and savvy (complete with a caravan in the square nearby).

The second was a South American, Sergio Larrain, who documented the lives of people across the nations of S America in the 50s and 60s. He has such a good eye and a wonderful sense of composition. It made me realise what is missing from most of my photos - light, composition, form, and soething intangible, a story element which he captures every time. Check him out.

Oh, and Arles is a beautiful town on the Rhone by the way.

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