There is a brilliant directness and intimacy in the portraits of Jean-Baptiste Huynh. They masterfully celebrate the power that a persona has to captivate the viewer. The portraits become beautiful manifestations of the soul and the spirit of the sitters forming atmospheres of concentration. The images are created in the tradition of classic portraiture with Huynh being a disciple of Irving Penn and composing his subjects in a similar manner. Huynh builds a portable studio that is very basic and minimal. The sitter is made emphatic; they are skillfully lit with a combination of artificial and natural light, and photographed with a medium format camera. Huynh makes all of the oversized silver gelatin prints in a traditional darkroom himself. Of the various bodies of work that Huynh is known for, he has made portraits in Ethiopia, Mali, Japan, and India. The sitters range in age and ethnicity and act as bridges between cultural diversity and individual identities. They reveal a purity of beauty in the elegance of diverse features and the emotion of gazes.
Huynh was born in Châteauxroux, France in 1966 to a French mother and a Vietnamese father. He has exhibited worldwide including a solo exhibition at Musée du Louvre in Paris in 2012 in which the Louvre invited Huynh to show Rémanence, a collection of his photographs inspired by objects in the museum’s collection. In 2006, the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris presented a retrospective exhibition of Huynh’s work. His photographs are included in the collections of Camera Work Photo Gallery in Berlin, the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, the Osaka University of Art, the Moscow House of Photography, and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris among others. Having been awarded various prestigious photography awards, the artist has also published eleven books that he conceives solely himself and sees as integral parts of each of his photographic projects. The powerful images of objects and people show Huynh’s meticulous and careful exploration of his subjects.