In a stunning series of images that blend photography, calligraphy, and performance art, Nantes-based artist Julien Breton (aka Kaalam) uses light and dance to “paint” beautiful and fleeting characters into the air. Inspired by a combination of Latin and Arabic writing styles, each piece is captured on long-exposure film while the artist creates his inscriptions using colored lamps and careful, intention-filled movements. As a living, artistic response to the environment, the designs are matched in compositional harmony to the surrounding backdrop, be it an underpass in New York, an abandoned building in France, or a magnificent hall in India. Each performance lasts several minutes and is then transformed into a single frame, transcending the boundaries of time and our perception of light.
On his biography page, Breton is quoted as explaining his choice of medium, which is rooted in a synchrony of bodily and spiritual practice: “a white sheet is too limiting. To paint on a canvas, however large, means in any case a limit within which I do not feel myself free to express my whole being. Only light is really infinite. The only limit is the air” (Source). Exploring infinitude, Breton’s images demonstrate the seemingly contradictory nature of light; it is bright and endless, yet also fleeting and enveloped by darkness. Both presence and absence are at play in the photographs; the artist disappears while his physical, expressive “trace” (the writing) remains behind. In these pieces, subjectivity and self-expression become greater, geometric portraits of universal energies.