Hughes Dubois, a photographer with an advertising background, developed a passion for photographing objets d’art early in life. Within his career spanning 40 years, his lens—set upon as many masterpieces—has demonstrated a deep understanding and sensitivity towards Tribal and Classical Arts in the course of collaborations with museums and art collectors all over the world. By sharpening his gaze through contact with thousands of works, he has acquired the knack of capturing their essence. He is keen to express whatever about an object reveals its singularity, expression and emotion. To date, he has produced and contributed to over 180 art books and exhibition catalogues.His photographs are works of art in their own right, and recognized as such thanks to numerous international awards including the International Tribal Art Book Prize (PILAT), the ICMA Gold Medal, and the Photography Award of the 2014 MGA Book Awards. His artistic work includes “Le sensible et La force“, the object of an exhibition at the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren (Belgium) in 2004, and“Formes & Façons“ shown at the Musée du Val de Bagnes and at Mauvoisin Dam (Switzerland) in 2013—making up a total of around ten solo exhibitions and five group shows (www.hughesdubois.be).
Caroline Dubois has worked with the Presse Filipacchi group, producing fashion and beauty pages for the magazine Femme, as well as advertorials for Paris Match International. She went on to set up a communications agency specialized in designing and organizing cultural events for brand names as well as the press group Lagardère. At the same time, after painting for over 10 years, she is now developing personal photography projects, namely her work on fleeting memories.
In 2015, Caroline and Hughes Dubois launched Luna Light Agency to create and produce joint photographic projects, edit and organize cultural events. This was the case with Borobudur Under The Full Moon, a project lasting for four years plus on the world’s largest Buddhist temple, Borobudur in Indonesia. Their photographs appear a limited-edition portfolio featuring a selection of platinum palladium prints, as well as an art book and a travelling exhibition organized under the high patronage of UNESCO.
Following a touristic tour at Borobudur, as we climbed its steps, we were mesmerised not only by the monument’s artistic beauty. Over 2,700 Buddhist relief carvings cover the walls of Borobudur, the first step was to make a choice. A selection of 63 of them was made by the Guimet Museum’s scientific team in order to understand the purpose of the teachings of Borobudur. This first selection was supplemented with the photographer’s selection made according to aesthetic criteria and to the quality of conservation of relief. A total of 108 photographs were chosen, which is a Buddhist symbolic number.
Technically, we decided to adopt a frontal angle that eliminated perspective. To photograph the panels, the camera needed to be directly parallel to banish all optical movement except for a digital sensor, mounted on a digital back. We executed our shots of the bas reliefs with a Linhof Technika, equipped with a custom-made Schneider Kreuznach wide-angle lens.
We also decided to create ‘life-size’ works. In other words, our digital ‘negatives’ would be exactly the same size as the bas-reliefs photographed so that we could make prints the same size as the panels, with a one-to-one pixel ratio. This precision is reflected in the size of each picture file: 450 million pixels per image. To produce each file, we had to ‘stitch’ at least six photographs of 80 million pixels into one final image.
Back in the field, it didn’t take long before we were confronted with real-life circumstances. The narrowness of the galleries made it difficult to place the camera sufficiently far away to prevent distortions. Also, the walls and floors were rarely even, complicating the task of placing the camera completely parallel to the relief we were photographing. On top of this, photography is unforgiving, and damage and discoloration often interfered with our aim to emphasise the art.
Time was perhaps the biggest challenge. At the most, we could only photograph two panels a night. Weather permitting, we could only shoot four to five nights a month. Simple maths tells the story: we spent over 110 nights on the monument over a period of more than four years! In a sense, we mutated from photographic-visitors to photographic-pilgrims. So, too, we began to perceive ourselves as sculptors of light, having developed light pens to enhance dimensionality and draw attention to subtle details. The end result was 108 images.
Depending upon one’s perspective, this portfolio is a work of love or determination. From our point of view, it is both a symbol of our love, a gift to this great Buddhist monument, and our humble contribution to the awareness of this jewel of World Heritage.
Hughes Dubois realized the photographs for more than 180 publications in Fine Art for Museums, Art galleries and collectors. Below are some publications produced for the Museums :
Dapper MUSEUM (France) - 29 publications realised from 1986 to 2104
QUAI BRANLY MUSEUM (France) - Genèse d’un grand projet, 2000; Fleuve Congo, 2010; Dogon, 2011
LOUVRES MUSEUM (France) - Coll. Solo, Le Baptistère de Saint-Louis, 2012; Coll. Solo, La Pyxide d’al-Mughira, 2012; Les Arts de l’Islam au Musée du Louvre, 2012
MUSEUM OF ISLAMIC ART, Doha (Qatar) - Louvre Museum, Paris (France) - From Cordoba to Samarqand Masterpieces from the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, 2006
ART INSTITUTE, Chicago (USA) - Himalaya, 2003
RATH MUSEUM, Genova (Switzerland) - Mexique terre des Dieux, 1998
IBERCAJA, Centro de exposiciones, Zaragoza (Espagne) - Objetos-Signos de Africa, 1998
JACQUES CHIRAC MUSEUM, Saran (France) - Jacques Kerchache. Itinéraire d’un chercheur d’art
ROI BAUDOUIN FOUNDATION , Brussels (Belgium) - Chouette au poinçon d’Anvers, 2003; Le Trésor d’Oignies, 2012
ROYAL MUSEUM OF ART AND HISTORY, Brussels (Belgium) - Trésors du nouveau monde, 1992
THE ROYAL MUSEUM FOR CENTRAL AFRICA, Tervuren (Belgium) - Le Sensible et la Force, 2004
BEYELER FOUNDATION, Riehen (Switzerland) - Visual Encounters-Africa, Oceania and Modern Art, 2009
CLASSICAL ART MUSEUM, Mougins (France) - Mougins Museum of Classical Art, 2011
CENTRE FOR FINE ARTS, Brussels (Belgium) - Utotombo, 1988
MUSÉE DE LA CIVILISATION (Quebec) -Arts du Nigeria dans les collections privées françaises, 2012
MUSÉE DE BAGNES (Switzerland) - Formes et façons dans le patrimoine du Val de Bagnes, 2013
BAUR FOUNDATION , Genova (Switzerland) - Alfred Baur, pionnier et collectionneur, 2015
Personal exhibitions 1982 Ath, ces gens, son cortège - Maison culturelle de la tour Burban, ATH ,Belgique
1986 Ouverture sur les arts Africains - Musée DAPPER Paris
2004 Le Sensible & La Force - Musée Royal de l’Afrique Centrale de Tervuren
2006 Galerie Evelyne LEPAGE Bruxelles
2008 Biennale des antiquaires Paris, Galerie 54
2008 Biennale des antiquaires Paris - Galerie Bernard Dulon
2010 Collection Durant-Dessert - La Monnaies de Paris
2013 Formes & Façons - Musée de Bagne à Verbier, Suisse
2013 Barrage de Monvoisin - Suisse
2015 Rétrospective - Parcours des Mondes, Paris
Group exhibitions 1997 État de sièges - Galerie Voutât, Genève
2006 Galerie Forêt verte - Paris
2014 Primitivisme dans la photographie - Galerie Valois, Paris
2018 Wormholes 1, Galerie laure Roynette, Paris
2018 Wormholes 2, la Ruche, Paris
Photographs in Private Collections Paris, Brussels, Geneva, New York, San Francisco, Milan, London, Singapore, Jakarta, Zurich, Chicago, Hergé Foundation Louvain la Neuve, Belgium; Beyeller Foundation, Swiss; Novartis,Swiss; Dapper Museum,France; Baur Foundation.
Photographs in Public Collections Royal Museum of Central Africa Tervuren; Quai Branly Museum Paris; Art Institute Of Chicago; Bellevue Museum, Brussels; The National Museum of Asian Arts - Guimet, Paris; King Baudouin Foundation, Belgium; Le Louvre Museum, Paris; Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar.
The Bismarck Archipelago Art publication won the International Book Art Tribal Price - the ICMA Award – and the best photography MGA Book Award 2014.