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Mathieu Cesar: Palais Royal

The young French photographer who's shot for the likes of Louis Vuitton and JCDC sets up an exhibition in Paris inviting the public to have their image captured

At the tender age of 24, Mathieu Cesar seems to have struck gold with his enigmatic black and white images. Capturing the cool and the interesting, from the worlds of music, fashion and the arts, as well as the hipster youth we all secretly long to be and (for some) love to hate. Cesar's Leica lens takes us beyond the mist of a seemingly familiar reality and steers us into a place that is intriguing, alluring and intimate.

Having already produced photographic and video work for Louis Vuitton, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac and our very own AnOther, it's clear the French photographer has a knack for producing stare worthy images. His latest exhibition, “Palais Royal” at Joyce Gallery in the Palais Royal is a photographic tell-all in a way, a collection of the images he has captured day-to-day at work, at play. Cesar will also be setting up a public photography session at the exhibition where visitors will get the chance to have their cool captured forever and featured online here

Dazed Digital: Tell us about the story behind the new exhibition. What made you decide to put this collection together?
Mathieu Cesar:
There is no real story. It is more because when you take pictures every day like me, at some point, you want to show your work. There is a lot of new stuff that correspond me way more today, and I wanted to show that I am not just about "being trendy". Also, I have this new awesome agent called MilyKadz, she represents people like Mark Hunter aka The Cobrasnake, Nabil or Johan Renck, and she got me Joyce Gallery in the Palais Royal where I am now exhibiting.

DD: You have quite a distinct style of shooting, what's the appeal of shooting in black and white?
Mathieu Cesar:
To be honest, I have to say what everybody thinks, things are just too beautiful in black and white! But being serious, I feel that it shows emotions in a clear way,  feelings are more obvious. Colours reflect reality as black and white are more like a dream to me. A scene that I make through my own eyes, something I invent. I do a lot of nude as well and I feel that black and white makes it less perverted, it shows beauty as maybe colors would have shown flesh, sex or something else.

DD: Your work focuses on portraits why are you drawn to that format and composition?
Mathieu Cesar:
It is a bit of a "going back to the basics" period for me. I am a lot influenced by photographers like Irving Penn and Sally Mann. I am mostly interested in people, their story, their life. More than taking a portrait, I like to meet them and the photography is a bit the last step. So without being cliche, every shot tells a story! Of course, you can also say that I am drowned by girls and that I mostly shoot them, yes!

DD: In your opinion what makes a good picture?
Mathieu Cesar:
I think it's going to be pretty hard to answer this one. I don't know, I have no rules regarding photography, but I am surprisingly very classic in my choices.

DD: What first triggered your interest in photography?
Mathieu Cesar:
I have a very chaotic history behind me, I literally touched everything before photography! But one short movie I made about a ballet dancer changed my life. After that, I ran to Los Angeles with a little camera and shot everything I could! Coming back from that, I posted them on a random blog and the buzz started to happen, I had no idea people could actually like those shots. Since that, it is kind of an addiction, that is what I do, I love it and I don't want to stop.

DD: How did you choose which images to include in the exhibition?
Mathieu Cesar:
That was hard work for me. I have two different points of view in my photography. I love documentary, taking snapshots in a second, an action; but I'm also into portraits a lot. There is a lot of people surrounding me in the pictures, my best girlfriends, my little brother... This exhibition is very personal to me. Also, the place where the gallery takes place; it's in beautiful gardens next to a palace and Le Louvre, made me go towards the second option. I am a very romantic kid in the end!

DD: What other up and coming projects are you working on?
Mathieu Cesar:
I am creating a magazine with friends that will be called Correspondence, I am really looking forward to it. Again, it's a good excuse to work with people we like, and create collaborations. More than a magazine, it's more like an agency, we're going to produce events, videos, everything we love! We hope we can talk about it more next time!

Mathieu Cesar - “Palais Royal” -  curated by Mily Kadz; 19 Oct – 14 Nov 2011
 everyday 11AM – 7PM
; Galerie Joyce 
Jardin du Palais Royal 
168, Galerie de Valois 75001 Paris, Public photo sessions everyday: 12AM-7PM