Sage comme une image.

One would go astray when trying to inscribe the photographic work of Michel Barbé solely in the history of photography, for it belongs both to arts and tales.

The photographs of Michel Barbé are first and foremost a demanding graphic work emerging from the natural and / or artificial environment, empty of human figure. His works are remarkably oriented by a solid and sensitive visual organization of structures, shapes, textures and colors. Thanks to a certain frame and a distinctive angle, Michel Barbé grasps fragments of an amplified reality seen close, so close, that it clears away all the temporal or interpretive indices.

The perspective, the top and bottom, the sense of reading are abolished for the shifts of the landmarks and the severance of scales. Nostalgia does not dictate them, interpretation and explanation are not possible, and they do not give any information.

They are based on fortunate encounters, intelligent and intuitive assemblages, the objective telescoping of materials, shapes, structures, and colors making possible the emergence of poetic and narrative sparks, thanks to the clashes and proximities fixed by the artist.

For the photographs of Michel Barbé -and this is their peculiarity- open a bridge to another space: that of the tale. The things that have been captured by the photographer tell a story that one can only hear (and transcribe plastically) if silence is made within himself and grasps this new material wishing to be brought to life.

The relationship between Michel Barbé and his objective is really the one which binds the audience to the storyteller. The more the audience (here the photographer) forgets himself, the more he becomes “sage comme une image”, the more what is “heard” and felt is deeply engraved in himself and in his photograph. The photographer memorizes and transmits what he has had the happiness to witness. These photographs thus result from this naive and tender emotion which the perfection of photographic and digital processes has not altered, and which so preciously characterizes those who have never lost their childlike soul, and for whom each territory to be explored begins by "Once upon a time ...".

Rose-Marie Stolberg
Historian of art and ideas, specialist in applied arts and modernity.