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5 July 2013

Sergio Larrain, Retrospective

Sergio Larrain moved through the photographic universe like a meteorite. His concern for purity and the appeal of meditation led him to isolate himself, after many journeys, in the Chilean countryside, where he lived a self-sufficient life and taught yoga and drawing. From here he wrote an enormous amount, concerned with raising awareness about humanity’s sad state and inciting people to take action to improve it.

From the end of the 1970s on, his practice was limited to a few satori, pure moments of bedazzlement, which he published in several small books. For a long period, Sergio Larrain rejected the idea of an exhibition of his work during his lifetime, because the media coverage necessary for it would force him out of his hard-won isolation.

However, at the end of his life he accepted, and it is hence with the full agreement of his children that this retrospective is able to take place. Agnès Sire, the director of the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris, curated the exhibition. She corresponded with Larrain over a period of 30 years and, along with the Magnum teams in Paris, to preserve his work.

The exhibition retraces his entire career, from his early apprenticeship years through to the ‘Magnum years’, from his documentary images to the freer images of the satori and drawings that punctuated his whole life. Sergio Larrain had a keen eye, freed from conventions. ‘I can give form to this world of fantasies when I feel certain resonate inside me,’ he wrote in his book El Rectángulo en la Mano(1963). This social and poetic approach made Sergio Larrain a brilliant photographer, who remains a model for future generations.

Exhibition venue: Église Sainte-Anne, Rencontres d’Arles 2013.