> Virginie Larousse

MICHEL KIRCH 

Alchemist of the Real

Son of a rabbi, the plastic photographer has developed a very personal pictorial language, where metaphysical questions are omnipresent. He is the guest of honor at the Salon d'Automne.

 

It often takes time to become who you are. Michel Kirch would probably not deny the expression that Nietzsche borrowed from the poet Pindar. Because by his own admission, he had to take very steep paths "to go from anguish to joy". To find himself, without trying to conform to what his parents expected of him. Before becoming the multi-award-winning plastic photographer that he is today, Michel Kirch had other lives. Son and grandson of rabbis, the artist retains the memory of a heavy childhood "with its obligatory rituals, at home and in the synagogue, and even in the street where each of my acts could tarnish my father's reputation. ... ”.

 

SACRED ADVENTURE

A cage from which he sometimes escapes, with soft steps, by scampering down the stairs of the family home, to join a “secret life” with the “neighborhood thugs”, on the roofs or near the river which crosses Metz, where he grew up.

“I really liked fishing, finding myself on these still wild shores, among nettles and cobwebs ... There was absolute magic in those moments when I felt connected to everything. We put the stopper of the fishing rod in the water, and the fish began to wriggle ... I could smell the smells, the softness of the water, in a peace, a form of sensual happiness. ". It is on these shores, more than at the synagogue, that the boy experiences the sacred, which for him has a taste for the forbidden. The beginnings of an adventurous life that he will take years to assume. On the other side, the young man indeed bowed to family traditions, and began studying medicine. “Every Jewish family needs a doctor. It fell on me! "He jokes today. But on the tails, the student continued his quest and spent a year at the Chamonix High Mountain School. "I acquired my physical and mental bases there," he realizes. Each step is a victory over oneself. I learned courage and determination. "

Qualities that will come in handy when he considers making plastic photography his profession. The discovery of this medium is, after all, the fruit of chance. After graduation, the dental surgeon decides to go on an adventure for at least a year. He buys a Jeep and a camera, not for the love of art but to memorize the landscapes of the Sahara. Back in France, he is surprised at the quality of his shots, which he thought were wrong. And decides to redo four trips in the dunes of the Sahara, in four different seasons. When he presented his shots to the director of the Espace Canon, he was immediately received for a solo show. "At that point, I knew I had a visual language," recalls Michel Kirch.

 

MAGICAL REALISM

Over the years, the artist will refine his style and develop a very personal touch, abandoning color photography in favor of monochrome. “Black and white,” he explains, “forces me to get straight to the point. There is nothing to flatter my intention. I also like the sensuality of this complex monochrome. In his works, the deepest blacks explode under the dazzling light of the whites, like an echo of God's creative gesture when he separated the darkness and the light. Michel Kirch is also, in his own way, a demiurge, his works never being narrative. Because the photographer is also a plastic artist: from the visuals he collects during his travels, he creates assemblies of elements, makes collages - assisted by computers - until giving birth to vast frescoes that question the human condition and the enigma of the universe. If his works "contain all the ingredients of an indisputable reality, he observes, they are fictions" - some critics call his work "magical realism". "I am not a witness of what I see, I am a witness of what I am", continues the one who was named, in 2016, "Monochrome photographer of the year".

 

A witness, too, of the challenges of our time. The dangers of an ecological apocalypse emerge as a major theme of his reflection, and in particular gave rise to the series "Homo Fukushima". Man appears microscopic, drowned in a grandiose and often hostile environment. But that doesn't mean it is reduced to nothing. “To me, man is a kind of mirror of the universe. He is at the same time all powerful, but by his size, his vulnerability, his madness, he is very fragile. "

The artist’s paintings reflect this ambivalence: if a dull anguish emanates from them - ruined architecture, threatened living beings - hope, always, remains. It is often symbolized by a bird, a metaphor for lightness, the possibility of flight. A distant echo, too, of the artist's beautiful escapes as a child.

"Each of my works is never totally anxious or joyful. These two forces always complement each other, as a reflection of the harmony of the world, "comments the guest of honor at the next Salon d'Automne in Paris.

A harmony that Michel Kirch seems to have found, after having sought it a lot - after having sought it a lot -, experimenting with everything that could allow him to give birth on his own, from yoga to bioenergy, from the Kabbalah. to tantrism. In 2010, he definitively ceased his medical practice, which had become more and more anecdotal over the years. “I didn't want to be a Sunday painter. I wanted to conquer this artistic identity 100%, despite all the risks that this represented. The moult then ended. Since then, the plastic photographer has devoted himself body and soul to his art "transfiguring reality", as the philosopher Edgar Morin observes, who describes Michel Kirch as "awakening". Awakener of a dreamlike and porous world, where one never quite knows if reality is fiction, or if fiction is reality.

 

A witness, too, of the challenges of our time. The dangers of an ecological apocalypse emerge as a major theme of his reflection, and in particular gave rise to the series "Homo Fukushima". Man appears microscopic, drowned in a grandiose and often hostile environment. But that doesn't mean it is reduced to nothing. “To me, man is a kind of mirror of the universe. He is at the same time all powerful, but by his size, his vulnerability, his madness, he is very fragile. "

The artist’s paintings reflect this ambivalence: if a dull anguish emanates from them - ruined architecture, threatened living beings - hope, always, remains. It is often symbolized by a bird, a metaphor for lightness, the possibility of flight. A distant echo, too, of the artist's beautiful escapes as a child.

"Each of my works is never totally anxious or joyful. These two forces always complement each other, as a reflection of the harmony of the world, "comments the guest of honor at the next Salon d'Automne in Paris.

A harmony that Michel Kirch seems to have found, after having sought it a lot - after having sought it a lot -, experimenting with everything that could allow him to give birth on his own, from yoga to bioenergy, from the Kabbalah. to tantrism. In 2010, he definitively ceased his medical practice, which had become more and more anecdotal over the years. “I didn't want to be a Sunday painter. I wanted to conquer this artistic identity 100%, despite all the risks that this represented. The moult then ended. Since then, the plastic photographer has devoted himself body and soul to his art "transfiguring reality", as the philosopher Edgar Morin observes, who describes Michel Kirch as "awakening". Awakener of a dreamlike and porous world, where one never quite knows if reality is fiction, or if fiction is reality.

A witness, too, of the challenges of our time. The dangers of an ecological apocalypse emerge as a major theme of his reflection, and in particular gave rise to the series "Homo Fukushima". Man appears microscopic, drowned in a grandiose and often hostile environment. But that doesn't mean it is reduced to nothing. “To me, man is a kind of mirror of the universe. He is at the same time all powerful, but by his size, his vulnerability, his madness, he is very fragile. "

The artist’s paintings reflect this ambivalence: if a dull anguish emanates from them - ruined architecture, threatened living beings - hope, always, remains. It is often symbolized by a bird, a metaphor for lightness, the possibility of flight. A distant echo, too, of the artist's beautiful escapes as a child.

"Each of my works is never totally anxious or joyful. These two forces always complement each other, as a reflection of the harmony of the world, "comments the guest of honor at the next Salon d'Automne in Paris.

A harmony that Michel Kirch seems to have found, after having sought it a lot - after having sought it a lot -, experimenting with everything that could allow him to give birth on his own, from yoga to bioenergy, from the Kabbalah. to tantrism. In 2010, he definitively ceased his medical practice, which had become more and more anecdotal over the years. “I didn't want to be a Sunday painter. I wanted to conquer this artistic identity 100%, despite all the risks that this represented. The moult then ended. Since then, the plastic photographer has devoted himself body and soul to his art "transfiguring reality", as the philosopher Edgar Morin observes, who describes Michel Kirch as "awakening". Awakener of a dreamlike and porous world, where one never quite knows if reality is fiction, or if fiction is reality.

 

A witness, too, of the challenges of our time. The dangers of an ecological apocalypse emerge as a major theme of his reflection, and in particular gave rise to the series "Homo Fukushima". Man appears microscopic, drowned in a grandiose and often hostile environment. But that doesn't mean it is reduced to nothing. “To me, man is a kind of mirror of the universe. He is at the same time all powerful, but by his size, his vulnerability, his madness, he is very fragile. "

The artist’s paintings reflect this ambivalence: if a dull anguish emanates from them - ruined architecture, threatened living beings - hope, always, remains. It is often symbolized by a bird, a metaphor for lightness, the possibility of flight. A distant echo, too, of the artist's beautiful escapes as a child.

"Each of my works is never totally anxious or joyful. These two forces always complement each other, as a reflection of the harmony of the world, "comments the guest of honor at the next Salon d'Automne in Paris.

A harmony that Michel Kirch seems to have found, after having sought it a lot - after having sought it a lot -, experimenting with everything that could allow him to give birth on his own, from yoga to bioenergy, from the Kabbalah. to tantrism. In 2010, he definitively ceased his medical practice, which had become more and more anecdotal over the years. “I didn't want to be a Sunday painter. I wanted to conquer this artistic identity 100%, despite all the risks that this represented. The moult then ended. Since then, the plastic photographer has devoted himself body and soul to his art "transfiguring reality", as the philosopher Edgar Morin observes, who describes Michel Kirch as "awakening". Awakener of a dreamlike and porous world, where one never quite knows if reality is fiction, or if fiction is reality.

 

Virginie Larousse 

Rédactrice en chef chez Le Monde des religions