French artist Didier Massard’s photography had me perplexed until I looked more deeply into his process. Massard creates these amazing images by constructing a small detailed set design or dioramas and thoughtfully integrating lighting techniques. What strikes me most about these images is that they at first appear to be paintings or digitally rendered, but closer examination reveals layering and depth that is not possible to create digitally. I read how Massard uses manual techniques to create fabricated sets, but honestly could not believe the entirety of his process until viewing this short video, where he explains his work from his studio. In the video, he also explains how his work is inspired from real and imagined places, places he’d like to visit but realizes the limitations involved in this desire.The subjects of his work vary from nature to mythology to architecture, but all of them evoke a cinematic and magical realist quality.
Massard began working as a commercial photographer for fashion and cosmetic companies, but once he began this meticulously fabricated photography work, he decided to stay focused on this personal project. All of his work is drawn from his own imagination, and he calls each image “the completion of an inner imaginary journey.” Because of the highly skilled and detailed work that goes into each set design and diorama, Massard produces only a few images per year, spending months considering the manipulations for each image. For Massard, his work succeeds when it breaches a border of truth and lies, dream and reality. His work is currently on display at Julie Saul Gallery in New York City until October 19.