Harry Gruyaert - Photographer
“I am attracted by things and things attract me” – says Harry Gruyaert, referring to the continuing magic of the hunt for those exhilarating moments in which reality visually reveals itself.
Since 1982, Gruyaert, a native Belgian, is member of the legendary photo agency Magnum; he sees himself as “street photographer”. Though this term is disliked by many of his colleagues, Gruyaert, in his own particular way, fills it up with life – and, above all, with colour. With his subtle montage of image sequences, filmmaker Gerrit Messiaen enables the audience to physically understand why Gruyaert is regarded as one of the first photographers who “think in colour”. But though it is true that he found new ways of using colour in documentary photography, Messiaen does not classify Gruyaert by labelling him as “Master of Colour.” His candid and unformatted narrative is in no need of an interpretive super-structure, instead, it opens up many different pathways to understand the life and work of this wanderer between East and West.
Messiaen leaves lots of room to breathe for Gruyaert’s pictures. The carefully chosen music supports the dramaturgical structure of his film and offers a subtle commentary to the journeys of a tireless flaneur who wanders across times, cultures and continents.
Messiaen’s film allows us to closely observe Gruyaert while working; this is one of its irresistible attractions. At times, one cannot fail to wonder: What exactly is he photographing? And then, in the wink of an eye, seemingly insignificant motives are transformed into strikingly beautiful compositions.
Gerrit Messiaen, born 1964 in Kortriyk, studied communication, film and political sciences at the University of Ghent and Brussels. After an apprenticeship as screenwriter with the VRT television fiction department, he worked two years as a producer for Frans Buyens and Lydia Chagoll. In 1996 he realised with Robert Visser A journey with Paul Cox, a documentary portrait of the Austral-ian filmmaker, which was shown at various international film festivals. In 1998 Gerrit Messiaen realised a short documentary The dance of Roberte. Until my last Breath a portrait of the Belgian film director Frans Buyens was awarded best Belgian documentary at the Brussels Film Festival 2000. His documentary "Lucien Hervé, photographe malgré lui" was widely screened at festivals worldwide, among them DOKUARTS 2013.