BY Max L. Feldman in Reviews | 18 NOV 20

Under the Duvet with Hervé Guibert

At Felix Gaudlitz, Vienna, a series of photographs by the French novelist beautifully captures the notion of intimacy

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BY Max L. Feldman in Reviews | 18 NOV 20

There are few settings as intimate as the bed, where we sleep, dream, caress, cry, love. Fitting, then, that six of the 15 small gelatin silver prints that make up Hervé Guibert’s exhibition at Felix Gaudlitz, ‘… of lovers, time, and death’, take place atop duvets and between sheets, each like a fragment of pillow talk elevated to poetry.

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Hervé Guibert, Claire, 1980, gelatin silver print, 22,8 × 30,5 cm. Courtesy: Christine Guibert/Estate of Hervé Guibert, Les Douches la Galerie, Paris and Felix Gaudlitz, Vienna; photograph: kunst-dokumentation.com

In one iteration of Vincent, Villa Médicis (1989), the artist’s lover lies splayed naked with the sheets rolled back. In another image of the same name, he has rolled onto his side to face the light that pours into the room. In the undated Hans Georg Berger, Elbe, we see his fellow photographer and friend bent over naked on a bed. Claire (1980) shows a woman lying in bed rubbing her eyes, possibly shielding herself from the early morning glare, while in Autoportrait couché (Reclining Self-Portrait, 1989), we are presented with a lover’s-eye-view of Guibert, who lies on his side looking directly into the lens.

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Hervé Guibert, Kafka, 1980, gelatin silver print, 22,8 × 30,5 cm. Courtesy: Christine Guibert/Estate of Hervé Guibert, Les Douches la Galerie, Paris and Felix Gaudlitz, Vienna; photograph: kunst-dokumentation.com

Kafka (1980) gives us a different kind of bedroom scene. Here, a notebook, its pages covered in handwritten script, sits on the far left of a row of objects: a watch, a pen, a hardback volume of Franz Kafka’s writings and its outer casing all lie on a bed with the duvet pushed back.

Beyond documenting Guibert’s inner life and diverse practice as an experimental novelist and photographer, ‘… of lovers, time, and death’ reveals how all of his subjects – from the mummified remains in Palerme (Palermo, 1979) to the shadows in Ombre de C. et Main de H.G., Santa Caterina (Shadow of C. and Hand of H.G., Santa Caterina, 1983) or the museum paintings in Faux Amsterdam (1982) – are treated with a lover’s generous, dreamy gaze, encouraging the viewer to see the world the way we’d most like to be looked at ourselves.

Hervé Guibert, ‘… of lovers, time, and death’  organized with Attilia Fattori Franchini at Felix Gaudlitz, Vienna runs until 28 November 2020.

Main image: Hervé Guibert, Vincent, Villa Médicis (detail), 1989, gelatin silver print, 14 × 21 cm. Courtesy: Christine Guibert/Estate of Hervé Guibert, Les Douches la Galerie, Paris and Felix Gaudlitz, Vienna; photograph: kunst-dokumentation.com

Max L. Feldman is a writer and art critic based in Vienna, Austria.

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