Mathieu Bitton - Darker Than Blue
June 7, 2017 — The Gallery at Leica Store Miami is proud to present Mathieu Bitton’s photo exhibition, Darker Than Blue. The collection will debut on June 16, 2017 with an opening reception at 7:30pm, and be available for public viewing from June 16 – August 25, 2017. This exhibit comes on the heels of Bitton’s debut East Coast exhibit at Leica Gallery in Boston this past Spring.
Bitton, who shot the photographs almost exclusively with his Leica Monochrom Typ 246, sought to capture natural-feeling, unguarded snapshots. “My objective was to show the profound beauty in these very real, everyday moments,” Bitton explains. This contrast is central to Bitton’s Hand Portraits, in which he focuses on his subjects’ hands to illustrate their uniqueness. One snapshot from this series shows Quincy Jones wearing Frank Sinatra’s pinky ring – bearing the Sinatra family crest – which Sinatra wore for 40 years before leaving it to Jones. "I love this photo," says Jones, "Such a special memory." Additional subjects include Herbie Hancock, Sidney Poitier, Gary Clark, Jr., Dave Chappelle, Snoop Dogg, Stevie Wonder and Melvin Van Peebles. As Bitton notes, “Hands really tell so much about a person, often times even more than their faces do. The wrinkles and calluses tell a story about one’s life and character."
Darker Than Blue features people going about their daily routines in New York City, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Paris, The Bahamas, and New Orleans. The show as a whole is representative of Bitton’s “always-on” photography style, resulting in high-contrast, high-grain images. “I don’t leave the house without my Monochrom. I don't ever want to miss a moment," says Bitton.
The title of the exhibition, like the style of the photographs, carries on the tradition of documenting black history, subtly connecting the past to the present. Darker Than Blue references a 1970 Curtis Mayfield lyric from the Civil Rights-themed, ‘We People Who Are Darker Than Blue.’ “I've always loved its depth and symbolism and have sought to reflect that paradox of hope and struggle in these images,” says Bitton. “The fist image, 'Prey Power,' represents the continued struggles of black people in the world today and was the symbol of the 1960s "Black Power" movement. With the current political climate, massive protests and unprecedented social uprising, I believe we can find hope and solace in art, whether through film, music, fine art or photography - especially street photography - which in this case, brings the real world to the front lines of social media and gallery walls in major cities."
“If your mind could really see
Bitton also has an extensive history working with musicians, including packaging and album cover design for renowned artists such as Lenny Kravitz, Prince, Miles Davis, Marvin Gaye, Sting, Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder, and James Brown. His next endeavor will be to co-direct a documentary on the life of Prince.
To view more of Mathieu's work, visit his website.