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Rijasolo, photographer

Rijasolo, a photographer of contrasts

After he focused his camera on Madagascar, Rijasolo earned a good reputation as photojournalist. Beyond his coverages, his pictures shed a new light on the Island, creating an aspect almost hallucinatory.

Night in black and white

A woman's silhouette comes off the dark of the night under the headlight of a car. The full moon allows a glimpse on a man holding a sugar cane plant in a field. The flame of a flare reveals its handler...

Rijasolo is a photographer of contrasts, of black and white and of the night. His favourite playground? Madagascar, his home country. "Madagascar is undoubtedly one of the least enlightened place at night on Earth. Even in the centre of Antananarivo, its capital. It gives the impression that anything could happen: trouble or nice encounters."

In 2013, Rijasolo published his first photo book entitled Madagascar, nocturnes. Without any flash or varnish, he takes advantage of the natural light to enlighten scenes of everyday life or to take pictures of slums in Antananarivo and its interlope population. The effect is mesmerizing: the slow speed of Rijasolo's Leica produces images that could be qualified as impressionist. In his pictures, the nocturnal life of the Malagasy capital looks like a series of hallucinations and ghosts.

Workers come home at fast pace, bodies rub on each other on a dancefloor, hectic faces stand out in a crowd, and empty beer cans lie next to bodies beaten by alcohol. The human being is at the centre of this dazzling universe, on which Rijasolo sheds a look of lucid spectator. "I don't create scenes and I don't do any editing. My tools are the contrast, the texture of the image, the blur... Eventually, my imagination is revealed, my intimate reflexion on ‘my’ Malagasy nights."

 

Between photo journalism and art pictures

Nothing seemed to predestine this autodidact to a career of photographer. First a civil servant in the French navy in Brest, he started photography as an amateur. "I've always been interested in images, and I trained alone in photography. I worked only with silver photography, in black and white, and developed my films in an improvised lab in my kitchen. It was a great time of sleepless nights in my darkroom!"

In 2005, Rijasolo's pictures draw attention and are selected for the biennial of African photography in Bamako. Things fall into place: he decides to take a professional turn and starts, at 35, a training in photo journalism in a Parisian institution. He continues by creating the group Riva Press, which quickly earns attention in the environment of documentaries. The French press welcomes Rijasolo with open arms: pictures of this autodidact can now be seen in "Libération", "Le Monde", "Jeune Afrique" or "La Croix".

A humanitarian photographer

Whether they're artistic or documentary, Rijasolo's pictures show a clear taste for poetic realism. It's no surprise that the photographer names Pierrot Men or Sebastião Salgado when he's asked about his references. He is now presented as the specialist of photo journalism on the Red Island after having waited 20 years to come back to his native country. He is now living in Antananarivo and catches the time lost by immortalising its inhabitants. After Madagascar, nocturnes, Rijasolo is preparing a new book on the local population and continues to send Malagasy pictures through French press.

 

Photo credits: © no comment® éditions/Animal pensant/Pierrot Men