Montagnes éternelles

Mario Colonel’s latest book brings together his finest black and white images, from the Mont Blanc Massif to the Himalayas.

montagnes-eternelles

Montagnes éternelles

Mountains and black and white images. For a long time I only saw black and white as an old-fashioned technique, a hang up from the past that absolutely had to be rubbed out. What's more, the mountains in these photos looked cold and icy, almost mysterious, their gaping chasms crossed by mountaineers in puttees, their berets lopsidedly screwed onto their heads, the guides looking more like pirates. For me they were like something by Mozart, melodic, poised, lively, clearly classical but out-dated...
So, like the rest of my generation, it was with relish that I took to using Kodachrome and then Ektachrome before naturally moving on to the excellent Velvia, which gave the lowliest of peaks a Wagnerian feel. With its colour saturation and grain, I saw nothing but light in the slightest details of these lofty peaks. Without realising it, I had become a seeker of colour, collecting tones and hues, and the more I had, the more I wanted. An echo of the way, during this same period, we were to become unapologetic consumers…
It took a proposal, a few years ago, to create an exhibition of black and white images for me to take up the challenge and plunge into the world of monochrome. The photos had barely been hung and it was a great success. With its primary symbolism, visitors left the exhibition bewitched, transcended by the essential nature of the images. I realised that I too was discovering my own photos… I realised then that these black and white images, with the simplicity of their lines and play of shadows, were conveying the inexpressible. The power of the mountainsides, the light touching south-facing slopes and ignoring the north-facing ones; the north still shivering, the south already warmed by the sun. Even the clouds were fleecy sailing boats in transit. As to the pointed peaks, one could cut oneself on their edges. Mountaineers and skies became temporal hallmarks. Everything was told in simple nuances, without embellishment. Much like listening to mountaineers who, in a few words, sum up a life or a passion.

 

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