From October 24 to November 24, 2015 Galerie du Forez presents "In Quest of the Unseen", a selection of works by the American photographer James Nicholls.
It would be difficult to attempt to separate James Nicholls' photography work from James Nicholls the person. His photographs are part and parcel of his life, a means to an end, the expression of his personality. James is a globe-trotter equipped with a digital camera, who travels to the four corners of the world and records things that he happens to come across and that strike him with their immediacy and variety; but he has a guiding principle that is highly focused. James seeks out the "decisive moment", the small intimate detail of life that "opens upon something large: the palpable and yet invisible presence of the sacred in the everyday".
Light is an essential element in James' photography. Not just light as a physical component of any photograph, but also light that is a stand-in for spirituality. Of particular interest to him are the meeting points of light and darkness, and especially, the presence of people who touch these points of intersection of light and darkness (see for instance "Coptic Worshipper, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem, Israel, April 4, 2007", or "Angel in the Light, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, Good Friday 2005"; both images are on show at Galerie du Forez).
James likes to photograph people; people in contemplative postures, people doing familiar ritualistic actions: an Indian woman preparing a traditional meal, Sudanese people dancing or praying, people of different religions engaged in their own idiom and their own rituals, but ultimately sharing the same goal. James says that his photographer's gaze upon these people gives him "a sense of community, of connectedness to truth". He has been taking pictures from an early age, as a way to remember and to handle life's confusion, because "our secular life is disconnected".
The photographs on show at Galerie du Forez were taken in select geographic locations, all of them charged with cultural and emotional significance: Varanasi and Rajasthan in India, the Old City in Jerusalem, San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, Nuba Mountains in Sudan, the Pyramids in Egypt. The title of the exhibition, "In Quest of the Unseen", refers to two symultaneous quests: the photographer's quest for sharing experiences -on an intimate human level- with people of different cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds, and the subjects' intimate quest for that which lies above and beyond everyday trivia.
Born in Chicago, James Nicholls studied philosophy and theology. In his youth he held different jobs, including train motorman. From early on in his life, he turned to the camera as a way of dealing with his inner crises and of connecting with the world. For many years now, he has been traveling the world, taking pictures of the many wonderous things seen, in the same vein as the great photographers Sebastiao Salgado and Steve McCurry.
James has participated in several group shows and solo exhibitions.