I met Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze in November 2017 in Paris for an interview at the photo art fair "fotofever", where he was presented by Hong Kong-based Blue Lotus Gallery. This Gallery represents some of Hong Kong's prominent photographers e.g. KC Kwan, Ho Fan and Michael Wolf. Romain Jacquet-Lagreze is one of the gallery's younger artists. With him I talked about the market for art photography in Hong Kong and about him and his work.
Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze is a photographer from Paris and has been living in Hong Kong for several years. As he told me, love brought him to the city where he lives with his Hong Kong-born wife.
Romain reported that the market for fineart photography in Hong Kong is vibrant and local collectors demand both local and international artists. His own work has a clear focus on Hong Kong, which he may see as a immigrant resident perhaps different from Hong Kong natives or tourists who spend only a brief period in the city. The view and thus the photographic work of Romain is based on three pillars: firstly chaos in the architecture, secondly contrasts between architecture and impressive nature and thirdly waterscapes in the skyline.
His series "Blue Moments" shown in Paris contains impressive monochromatic pictures of cityscapes and skylines with highrise buildings in HK. "The Blue Moment" is the small period of time in the dawn of a new day. I asked Romain if the pictures he took are also comparable to other megacities or if there is something that makes Hong Kong special for his work. From his point of view, Hong Kong is different from many other megacities because of the unexpectedly frequent presence of skyscrapers in combination with natural and aquatic areas, which can be attributed to the topography. In his pictures Romain expresses these peculiarities very clearly.
The one shown by Romain is obvious and yet at the same time contradicts Hong Kong's image, which is often condensed into full-frame images of skyscraper facades, such as those found in the work of Hong Kong artist Michael Wolf. Unlike Michael Wolf, Romain usually incorporates mountain or water landscapes, which are visible in his pictures between skyscrapers. It does not create the otherwise typical and often photographed image of rundown narrowly packed buildings but an open view of often high-quality apartments and magnificent views.
These are images that contain no social criticism, as they could be interpreted in Peter Bialobrzeskys "Neontiger" images. On display are well-chosen and aesthetic looks that show Romain's version of Hong Kong. Pictures that you like to put up on the wall at home. The blue moment (which is good to experience in the summer) before the start of the new day shows a peacefully sleeping city that has the best the next day.
Asked about the future, Romain explained his subsequent project, which deals with the roofs of Hong Kong. He places himself for several hours on other, higher-rise skyscraper roofs and waits for people to appear on the other rooftops. These images can be viewed longer and stories on the roofs observed. Depending on the position of the sun, interesting lighting situations arise, which reminded me of selective film lighting. So we can look forward to this new project and further progress.
All images: Copyright by Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze