Todd Hido | The Black Mechanism

17 May - 18 June 2022 17 rue des Filles du Calvaire 75003 Paris

As a visual artist it often only takes a few potent words to clarify and motivate one to create.

The gallery Les Filles du Calvaire is pleased to present the solo exhibition of the American photographer Todd Hido: The Black Mechanism. The artist returns to Paris with a new set of powerful images, taken mostly in the United States. The landscapes photographed by the artist show a desolate and dark world, a precipice in time from which one senses it will struggle to emerge. This new landscape body of work is intertwined with portraits that express a subtle disquiet, and suggest an ambient darkness.

“For the essay in my book Bright Black World, published in 2018, the first sentence Alexander Nemerov wrote was: “The end sends advance warning”. He could have stopped right there because those five words have infected me and my pictures in the best way. As a visual artist it often only takes a few potent words to clarify and motivate one to create. Much of my new work is made with that phrase echoing in my subconscious as I look at the spaces I move through. With the black mechanism in my hands that gathers my thoughts and feelings, I bear witness to the world that we live in. In my last book, I explored my feelings of a darker world that I saw us slipping into. To my great dismay, I see no sudden reprieve or respite.

Yet, in the front window of my home, we have posted a handmade sign that says ‘Tooth + Nail’; take it as a declaration that we won’t go down easily.”

The set of landscapes presented at the gallery are the result of several journeys, and was for the artist the opportunity to take the pulse of the country. In the middle of winter, Todd Hido takes advantage of the elements to paint a scenery of devastation.  His own feelings are expressed here, but this pessimistic trouble is also universal. In the undertow of his images he tells us about an era of wars, first between men, but also against the Earth.

His talent is also evident in the art of portraiture. He likes to mix people and places, and the combination becomes cinematic. Pure and unfiltered, his portraits seem to give substance to the observation made above. Pensive and melancholic, these characters exhibit a longing and loss that many of us know intimately. However, in each image the light from within is captured by this black box. There is always a ray, even a frail one, to illuminate faces, forests, and icy territories. We would like to believe this is a matter of hope.