Guillaume Herbaut has been photographing Ukraine for 20 years. From his first images, in 2001, the seeds of conflict were smoldering. Then came the Orange Revolution, the Maidan Revolution, the annexation of Crimea, the war in Donbass and the Russian invasion. While the working conditions of war photographers have become difficult, as they are so restricted in their freedom of movement, Guillaume Herbaut’s photographs are the result of a long-term project, a form of intimacy with the inhabitants and a deep knowledge of the country, its society and its history. Exempt from any sensationalism, on the margin of the direct capture of the conflict, his images reveal the roots of the war.
More than they show it, they underlie it and bring out the convulsions of the former Soviet empire.
Stéphane Duroy, whose career initially moved away from reportage to build a body of work questioning the relationship to the history of twentieth-century Europe, marked by two atrocious wars, does not photograph the Ukrainian conflict. He paints it every day and this since the first day of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. He has never been on the spot, but, fed by information and testimonies, he establishes a personal diary of the conflict by accumulating paintings. Each one tells of the war and its atrocities still being played out on the European continent.
Both are not war photographers, and both break away from the spectacular. Here, photography and painting meet, confront and echo each other, in their capacity or their inability to declare this is war. Here, photography becomes the medium of duration and painting that of immediacy (as Eugène Delacroix wrote, “A painter must know how to catch a worker falling from a scaffold in the time it takes to fall”).
Where photography fails to convey the absolute atrocity, where painting does not provide elements of understanding of the context, the meeting of their works, ultimately complementary, translates the possibilities and limits of representation, perception, reception of each medium.
Video capture by Filigranes Editions.