" my pictures are paintings more than photos "

After an exchange with Frédéric Laban

Architectural photography is generally understood to be photography that focuses on buildings. It can include exterior and interior photographs of buildings as well as bridges, other structures and urban landscapes. When it comes to building photography, the first instinct might be to try to capture the whole with exterior shots of the building. But, once you have freed yourself from taking a standard shot of the entire building, you have the freedom to be creative. In exchange with Frédéric Laban, photographer from Marseille, we learned how he discovered the Le Corbusier buildings in France with his camera and captured exciting details.

"As a humanist photographer, traveller and urbanist, I have always had the desire to crystallize the ephemeral, to reveal the imperceptible. I feel poetry in unusual atmospheres; I like the surprise of unexpected encounters; I like to cross the mirror and penetrate parallel worlds; changing spaces, urban wastelands, intermediate worlds; where I find myself in resonance. " Frédéric Laban says this about his work as a photographer. Le Corbusier did not attach any real value to photography, but nevertheless he bought three cameras within 10 years (1907-1917) and took several hundred good quality photographs. It is worth remembering that it was not until the end of the 1930s that colour photography was possible for everyone and colour was an essential part of Le Corbusier's work. Didn't Le Corbusier say: "Colour in architecture – a means as powerful as the ground plan and section. Or better: polychromy, a component of the ground plan and the section itself."


Frédéric Laban photographed the four Le Corbusier residential units in France (Marseille, Briey, Rezé, Firminy) between 2014 and 2018. There he was allowed to live in the ‘Künstlerhaus’. About his pictures from these years Laban says " They can be classified in three series, which correspond to a development of my work: The crossings (movements, vibrations, leakages, vertigo), the "Mondrians" (geometric abstractions, complementary colours, coloured paving stones), the "pure abstractions" (entry into colour, fusions). The streets of Le Corbusier's housing units are of these worlds... these spaces, bathed in Le Corbusier colours and subdued light, are unexpected, almost extravagant. The colour is discovered in the middle of the concrete bridge; Le Corbusier is seen from inside! »

In the catalogue of the exhibition 'Vibrations Colorées, un regard décalé sur l'architecture du Corbusier' in Firminy in 2018, it is stated: " Frédéric Laban's photographic series show the emancipation of this colour from the form that is very present in the four residential units of the national territory. Wandering through the streets of the shining cities, combined with the movement of the march, evokes fleeting impressions, at a floating, almost unreal time; interrupted by chromatic touches and shadows of light with bright and saturated colours. The space is nothing other than polychromy. »

Anyone who has been to the Cité Radieuse - the Unité in Marseille - knows how impressively Le Corbusier's colours and colour concept were used. Whether 32040 vert anglais, 32020 bleu outremer 31 or 32080 orange - the colours of Architectural Polychromy are always used in a harmonious way. Frederic Laban describes the Unité in Marseille by Le Corbusier and the colours as follows: "I have been practicing in the radiant city of Marseille since 1974. I have gradually impregnated myself, I would say charged with subliminal visual sensations during my crossings along the "streets" of the Unité. It is these fleeting impressions, these sequences, these stimuli, which today impose themselves on my photographic expression. I had to become sensitive in order to crystallize these waves, these "colored vibrations" that accompany us as we pass through these interiors. Colour and light are the heart of concrete!" Through his paintings, Laban wants to make us sensitive to these waves, these "coloured vibrations" that accompany the concrete lines. He wants to evoke more than show, his paintings are therefore more paintings than photos.




© Frédéric Laban - FLC/ADAGP, Fondation le Corbusier

www.fredericlaban.com / flaban|at|gmail.com



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