Artist Interview: In which Michel Cadart talks about photography, nudes, and
schools me in French
Hey, this monthís
G.A.G. G. artist is Michel Cadart. Michel is an old friend of ours, and a
very talented photographer. His collection, MDK: Dark & Light, highlight
texture, shadow, light, and lines, while showing us a genuine sort of sweetness
and joy in the human form. I was lucky enough to catch up with Michel to ask him
about photography and the creative soul, and, of course, to get some
pointers on my French.
Arys Palen: Thank you very much, Michel, for the
Michel Cadart: Oh, I thank you !
AP: Where are you located, if you donít mind the question.
MC: Do you mean where I live? I live in France, more precisely in the north of
France, where France is the nearest to England.
AP: Iíve heard itís quite beautiful there.
MC: Itís a nice region. My house is on the cliff and from my windows I can see
the English coasts when the weather is clear
AP: Oh! Sounds very artsy and beautiful. (laughs)
AP: How did you get started with photography?
MC: When I was sixteen I got a small plastic camera which I used to shoot horses
and sunsets. Then I read
Edouard Boubatís book about
photography and it made me want to try it a little further.
AP: Wow, that sounds like a simple and straightforward beginning.
MC: I bought a Lubitel (a 6x 6 Russian camera).
AP: When you were sixteen?
MC: Yes when I was sixteen, the Lubitel. It costs about 100 French francs. It
means about 20 US$. Then, when I was 18, my first Nikon.
AP: So photography made quite an impact on you early, it seems. Was it
the cameras that drew you in? Or the images? Initially, I mean.
MC: Overall the images. For the first time I was able to create something by
myself. The camera was only a tool.
AP: Ah! I know that feeling!
AP: In the beginning how much work did you put into planning out your
shots and the final images?
MC: In the beginning, the work wasnít planned out. I took pictures everywhere,
at any time. It was nearly an addiction.
(Arys Palen laughs)
MC: Many shoots and not many good pics, but some though
AP: How consciously were you using this addiction to refine your style
MC: I was ďtryingĒ, experimenting. I wanted to know what exactly I could expect
from this media. I learned classical photography rules, and techniques, but soon
transgressed them and tried to go further.
AP: (laughs) As any good creative person has a responsibility to do!
MC: Now, the experimentation is much less
AP: Do you only shoot in black and white?
MC: Now, I only use black and white traditional argentic technique. Before, it
happened that I used color photography, but itís not my [style], now.
AP: I can see why, your images
MC: Thank you. My interest in these pictures is to capture, forms, lights,
textures and, of course, a part of the humanity of the model.
AP: You capture an innocence and sensitivity in the black and white that
the color may distract.
AP: How did you get started doing nudes?
MC: My first nude pictures, except some made with girlfriends when I was a
student, were made at a Beaux-Arts school. It was very new for me. I think, as
many artists, I was attracted by the nude human body.
AP: HmmÖ Is it your preferred image for photos? I know your last exhibit
for GAGG was another set of nudes. (Last Julyís Paysage
de corps Ė Body Scenery exhibit.)
MC: Itís my current work. I donít say Iíll only make nude pictures for the rest
of my life, but now and for the last few years, itís what Iím working on.
Thereís so much to do around a human body. Iíd love to shoot male nudes too, but
itís much more difficult to find male models
AP: Are nudes easier or harder to shoot?
MC: Itís a hard discipline. Nude pictures can easily look harsh.
AP: When you start a project do you already have it planned out in your
MC: Now I can say yes. It hasnít always been true before. But now, I know what I
want to get and I explain to the model what we are working for. The model must
be involved in the project [as well or] it doesnít work.
AP: So your images are deliberate. Do you still just go out and shoot
for the sake of shooting?
MC: Of course, but much less than a few years ago.
AP: Just for fun? Or do you get some good images then too? (laughs)
MC: I can get very good images that way too. When I find a subject which [speaks]
to my mind ; Iíll show you, one day, a set of pics I made of wrecked
AP: Oooh! Sounds interesting. Iíll hold you to that!
AP: During your shoots, do you find you still get happy accidents?
MC: What do you mean?
AP: Do you still get accidental shots that you didnít expect, but are
better, maybe, than what you initially had in mind?
MC: When I work in a studio, for nude pictures, never. Iím very slow when I
shoot. I know exactly what I want. It happens that I get ďbadĒ accidents by not
getting exactly what I wanted
AP: I admire your precision.
AP: How long have you been doing this? If you donít mind me askingÖ
MC: Photography? I told you since I was sixteen, so youíre asking my age? (laughs)
AP: (laughs) No, just trying to get an idea of how long youíve been
shooting. Experience and all. But thatís fine [if you'd rather not say]. Your
mystery is part of your charm!
MC: No problem. Iím 51 so Iíve been doing this for 35
ans years, sorry.
AP: (laughs) No problem, my French is coming along. Iím starting lessons
AP: Who are some of your favorite artists and photographers? Some
of your influences.
MC: Oh, thatís easy to say: Edouard Boubat,
Fred Aufray, and in a different style
AP: Oh! I love Helmut Newtonís stuff as well.
MC: And Iím not shy to say that I loved David Hamilton, too, when I was younger.
David Hamiltonís work has been decried, but I think that he inspired a whole
AP: o.0 I am not familiar. I will have to look him up. At least not
familiar by name
MC: He photographed very young girls with softener filters on his camera
AP: Ah. Okay, yes, I think I have seen his work. I may have some around
the house in a photography book somewhere.
MC: it was in the 70ís. That was allowed. Now, heíd be called a pedophile ! (laughs)
AP: Art is a sensitive area for some. o.0
MC: Do you know that Lewis Caroll used to make nude pictures of little girls?
AP: Yes, I had read that. (laughs) He had lots of issues from a modern
AP: How do you usually discover new art?
MC: By the ďbouche ŗ oreille.Ē I donít know the English expression for this. By
AP: Word of mouth?
MC: Word of mouth, it may be that.
AP: Bouche is mouth, yes?
MC: Right! and Oreille is ear. ďMouth to ear.Ē It means what one hears from
somebody else. And a few by exploration.
AP: Well, I thank you for taking the time to talk to me about art and
creativity and such.
MC: Thanks for your interest in me and in my work, Arys.