He says he works in a "visionary" universe, and as such, Manolo Chrétien is an extraordinary photographer. "I call my work 'Aluminations', because it’s a mixture of aluminum, hallucinatory and visionary images, and I think it representative of me because I am a true visionary."
A visionary of the air, who, being the son of the well known French astronaut Jean-Loup Chrétien, Manolo grew up near the tarmac of military base 115 in Orange (southern France). The planes, the metal, its curves and undulations, were a childhood passion today transformed into the medium of print supports, although he does not print his photos on conventional photographic paper but on aluminum sheets. "I use a brushed aluminum sheet, produced from recycled aircraft parts, making my subject perfectly adapted to the support, and vice versa. I love the distortions of the metal, with its age and time in the air, which help to create this rippled, undulated reflective effect, giving an incredible dreamlike quality to the image. It’s almost an abstract work."
A work where one’s gaze becomes lost amongst the reflected blurred images of the sky, earth, and surroundings of the aircraft. A work discreetly and subtly reflecting the life of legendary metal birds of the 40’s and 60’s, like this Super Fortress. "The metal became distorted from all that time spent in the air because the plane dates from the war."
Or again the legendary B25 Mitchell. "Here still in the rippled sheets, after many long hours in the air, we can see the reflections of the runway, surrounded by planes, and from everything, the reflected ambient light, which for me is a true wonder."
A nostalgic regard too. "It’s the work of time on the plane, and of the wind, because the slipstream created by the plane's speed deforms the structure. It's true that I love going into this detail which takes us almost into the abstract and a sort of painting of the moment that, in the end, reveals the story of the aircraft."
An effective work where in the end, everyone can invent his story of this singular journey where material and photography become one.