Paolo Roversi, the Parisian drunkenness

In his studio in the 14th arrondissement with large windows, Paolo Roversi has just received the first edition of the catalogue of his exhibition. The only copy at the moment. Emotion. The northern light he loves so much invades the space, immense. Meeting with the most Parisian of Italian photographers whose Palais Galliera hosts, until July 14, 140 works in the exhibition dedicated to him.

Palais Galiera until July 14

10 Avenue Pierre-de-Serbie, Paris 16e
See itinerary

What is the project of your exhibition at the Palais Galliera?

Paolo Roversi : “It’s not a retrospective. It’s a wireless exhibition, like a diary of my working years. I am pleased with this exhibition because it is a recognition. I have been in Paris for 50 years.”

What was your emotion when you arrived in Paris?

Paolo Roversi : “I arrived in Paris on a rainy night in 1973. For a young Italian boy, it was like landing on the Moon. I arrived on Boulevard Raspail and walked across Paris. I was happy, drunk with Paris.”

What do you like about Paris?

Paolo Roversi : “Paris is beautiful when you cross a bridge, you breathe the great Paris, and all its light and all its sky. I love its boulevards, its museums, its cinemas…. I love everything about Paris. It’s unique in the world. Despite my love for Italy, I couldn’t leave Paris.”

Does Paris have a special light?

Paolo Roversi : “Yes, no doubt. The typical Parisian light with not too sunny days and grey skies is the light I love. I am fortunate to have a studio with large windows that look north. So I have the painters’ light. I also like the light of Paris between dog and wolf, when it is not yet night, and the day is almost over.”

Have you photographed Paris?

Paolo Roversi : “Very few. I’m not an outdoor photographer, I’m a studio photographer. Photographing the streets, I’ve done very little. When I did it, it was at night. I’m not a realism photographer.”

Have you photographed Paris?

Paolo Roversi : “Very few. I’m not an outdoor photographer, I’m a studio photographer. Photographing the streets, I’ve done very little. When I did it, it was at night. I’m not a realism photographer.”

How did you find your studio?

Paolo Roversi : “By chance. A friend, also a photographer, told me that he had found a studio, a beautiful place. I liked it very much, but the rental agency told us it was rented. Two weeks later, it was free, and I took it alone. During the work, I lived in the studio of Géricault, rue des Martyrs. I came to live here for a few years. It’s a place I’m very attached to. I’ve been working here for almost 30 years.”

How do you welcome your models?

Paolo Roversi : “We offer a tea…. It’s a domestic studio, quite homey. Human, that’s for sure. It does not have the atmosphere of a commercial, industrial or technical place. You have to welcome the person you are photographing, put them at ease, establish mutual trust and then what I call the photographic friendship between the subject and the photographer is born. That’s how we make beautiful photos together.”

How do you work there?

Paolo Roversi : “My studio is like a small theatre. Photography is a small event. We stage, we tell. I try to create a special atmosphere strong in vibrations so that the viewer, looking at the photo, feels the same emotions. It’s as simple as that.”

In the exhibition, we discover your work with the Polaroid for almost thirty years…

Paolo Roversi : “Yes, I started photography with the large format Polaroids in 1980 and I extended this technique for thirty years. When the Polaroid house closed, I could not continue. I miss it a lot. It was my palette. I was trying to experiment with all kinds of different things, putting color in the rolls, sticking pieces of gold leaf, silver, flower petals behind the Polaroid, I tried a lot of little things. It was alchemy. The most beautiful, satisfying moment was when I was surprised by the result myself. We are fascinated by what is happening. It is always a gift of light, a photo.”

Your inspirations are many…

Paolo Roversi : “In photography, I have many masters who have inspired, nourished, enriched me, as in painting, music, poetry. You need to be enriched and fertilized to be able to get something out. If you have nothing inside, it’s difficult. Large photographs are taken from large photographs. Umberto Ecco said, “We are dwarves sitting on the shoulders of giants.”

What is your image of the Parisienne?

Paolo Roversi : “Inès de la Fressange is the typical Parisian with her style and allure. It’s a nonchalance, not a bourgeois elegance as could be the Milanese, like a “madame” with all the Gucci belts and Prada bags. The Parisienne has a more naughty and discreet elegance. Sexier too.”

You have a project on the Louvre…

Paolo Roversi : “I am preparing a book on the Louvre. It fascinates me to do that. I have carte blanche. Everything about the Louvre. There are 25 kilometres of galleries in the Louvre. It’s huge. I’ll try to do something good, but I haven’t really started yet. For the moment, I am probing the project and the works of art.”

What would you like to be remembered from your exhibition?

Paolo Roversi : “The human side, my work and basta. A love of life and beauty”

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