In the heart of Mayfair until 10 January, Connolly is presenting Julien Drach’s photography exhibition Shades of Rome at Clifford Street, London W1. The series on display began back in 2018 during the artist’s five-week residency at the Villa Medici in Rome. The photos were primarily taken in the three Roman villas: Medici, Borghese and Pamphili.
Though Drach is renowned for being a photographer and director, his creative journey started on the other side of the camera as an actor in NYC. His career shift came about when an acting job got delayed and he bought a camera and started to shoot abstract images of the city. Creative freedom has always been very important to Drach, so his passion for photography eventually became more than a hobby and 15 years on, he is now a widely exhibited photographer. This is Drach’s second exhibition at Connolly. His first show, The Eye Listens,was held last year and captured the Eternal City in a more abstract light.
The 17 works exhibited picture the iconic stone pines in the villa gardens of Medici, Borghese and Pamphili. His works have a sense of “otherness” and mystery to them achieved by the medium of black and white format film and Polaroid with matt paper. This technique also gives the works an impression of being etchings – blurring the lines between photography and drawing. Drach said, ‘I use the camera as a tool. I am not looking for perfection, otherwise I would be losing the poetry I am looking for’. The artist’s photographs aim to shed a new light on the hidden, sometimes invisible part of reality and encourage the viewer to cross the line from the imagery into the imaginary.
Drach chose the locations of the three villas as he wanted to do something different from his previous body of work shot in Rome, and for him it was a great opportunity to discover the beauty and history of these beautiful villas and their gardens. When he got back to Paris after his residency, he got the film developed and felt that he had to venture back to Rome in order to keep developing this project. In the past five years he has returned 40 times to walk around the city with his tripod and camera, getting lost in the streets and palazzos.
Isabel Ettedgui, owner of Connolly, said, ‘When Julien Drach showed me his images of the trees of Rome, I knew I wanted to cover the walls of Connolly with them; having been obsessed from the age of 16 when I first woke up in Rome, looked out of the window and saw these magisterial canopies… I am thrilled that we have been able to create our own shades of Rome upstairs and that you, like me all those years ago, will feel the same awe and joy when looking at Julien’s photographs.’
Be sure to check out Shades of Rome before it ends to behold the unworldly and sensory portrayals of the Roman stone pines.
This exhibition runs until 10 January at Connolly, 4 Clifford Street, London W1S 2LG; connollyengland.com/collections/julien-drach
Find out more about the photographer Julien Drach here: juliendrachstudio.com