BEFORE THE 20TH CENTURY, PEARL HUNTING WAS A DANGEROUS WAY TO MAKE A LIVING. FREE-DIVERS WERE OFTEN FORCED TO DESCEND TO DEPTHS OVER A 100 FEET ON A SINGLE BREATH, TAKING THE RISKS OF LOSING CONSCIOUSNESS AND DROWNING AND ENCOUNTERING TREASONOUS UNDER WATER STREAMS AND HORRIFYING CREATURES. ALL THAT TO FIND THE LITTLE PRECIOUS GEMS THAT, PROTECTED IN THE HARD SHELLS OF AN OYSTER TOOK YEARS TO MATURE AND BLOSSOM TO THEIR FULL BEAUTY. THE DIVERS FOUND PEARLS IN ALL SORTS AND FORMATS, BUT NO MATTER HOW MANY TIME THEY WENT AND NO MATTER HOW MANY YEARS THEY HAVE BEEN PRACTICING THIS JOB, PEARLS WERE AND STILL ARE EXTREMELY RARE AND THEREFORE PRECIOUS. SOMETHING TO CHERISH AND PROTECT.
Some people are like pearls. They have a talent so rare it needs to be cherished and protected. Like pearls these people are hard to find, but every now and than you stumble upon one of them. And if you do, you know you have found a treasure of unspeakable value. Brice Hardelin is such a person. We can’t tell you much about Brice beside the fact he is a professional photographer and lives in Paris. A basic description that hardly serves him right. But we will learn more about Brice later. Meaning not today, but in the near future. What we can tell you about Brice is simply what we learned by observation. Brice Hardelin is an extra-ordinary talent. He is a man who takes an idea, looks at it from every angle, casts the right person to give it life and with a minimum of props creates photographic stories that is nothing less than visual poetry.
We are not so surprised Brice Hardelin is not widely published as many other photographers are who work in the area of male photography. As we mentioned before, pearls are hard to find and once you have one, you need to nourish it. But Brice is not completely unknown either. His series Bacanal received international attention two years ago and was exhibited in Lisbon. Not entirely surprising considering the starring model is nobody less than Pedro Cunha, TV and movie actor since he was 15 years old and Portuguese national treasure. Brice met Pedro in Lisbon some years ago and the two artists have kept in contact ever since. When a photographer friend of Brice approached him with the idea of an exhibition in Lison in 2009, Brice immediately thought of Pedro and the two of them got together to work on a concept. Brice recalls: "Pedro told me he wanted to change the image the public had of him because he wanted to play tougher roles. So we did several series and then at the end we thought, ok, let’s do something spontaneous. Something different. It was lunchtime, we went to a grocery store and that is where the idea came to mind."
The idea was simple, the execution even simpler. Brice and Pedro shot in the bathroom of Brice’s hotel room. What started to be funny went out of control and the result was a set of photos very different from what Brice Hardelin normally would do in the studio. "At the end the room was a mess, the floor was covered with food and I knew that I had a good series of pictures." Editing this work into a stunning series, Brice did his magic and added additional conceptual thoughts to each individual part. Sweet like strawberry jam, sour as crème. Fresh as green roots, salted like caviar. We are not sure whether Brice is referring to casual musings or relates his thoughts directly to Pedro Cunha. Though the last comparison, strong like espresso with a bit of icing sugar, leaves little to the imagination.
One of the red photographs, officially named Sudo y sangre, has been exhibited several times since the original show in Lisbon and can currently be found in a museum in Milan. Pedro Cunha and Brice Hardelin remained friends and coworkers on other projects after this very successful collaboration. Some of the examples are to be found on Brice’s exciting website, such as Golden Age, a set in his Black Portraits and In Bed With Pedro Cunha. Now there is a concept... But today we limit ourselves – with difficulty I have to admit – to a selection of Brice’s Bacanal. We believe for the moment this is enough of an appetizer. So enjoy. Bon appétit. –BM-
With special thanks to Pedro Cunha.
BRICE HARDELIN | BEAUTIFULMAG