Belfast Exposed is delighted to present a career-spanning retrospective of work from acclaimed photojournalist Alain Le Garsmeur, in partnership with Belfast Photo Festival 2023.
Exhibition Run: Thursday 1st June – Saturday 22nd July 2023.
During a career that saw him work for both The Sunday Times and Observer Magazine, Le Garsmeur’s vibrant, documentary images captured both the extraordinary and the mundane in locations as varied as Belfast, New York, Beijing and Moscow. With his work also appearing in Newsweek, The Independent, Figaro and other publications, Le Garsmeur’sglobal reputation and range of subjects make him one of the most important photojournalists of his era.
During the 1970s and 80s, Le Garsmeur’s work in Northern Ireland for The Times and Observer saw him capture both the dangerous and surreal nature of everyday life amidst the Troubles. His use of colour film to capture the conflict, and the communities that endured it, provides a contrast to the monochrome press images that have come to dominate much of our visual frame of reference for the period. Le Garsmeur’swork saw him cover British Army operations, riots, protests and checkpoints, as well as photographing both Protestant and Catholic communities as they went about their daily lives. As the images presented in this retrospective show, there is a tangible sense of the surreal nature of the conflict in Le Garsmeur’s work. His photographs remind the viewer of both the claustrophobic nature of the conflict, occurring directly alongside everyday life, as well as just how recently it took place.
Globally, Le Garsmeur worked for a wide range of outlets and frequently provided images for cover stories and key magazine features. Once again, much of his work saw him focus on the passage of everyday life in a changing world, as much as featuring the coverage of key global events. Again, his use of colour film allowed him to capture vibrant images of his subjects that retain a sense of energy to the modern viewer. They remind us of how comparatively recent many of the events documented actually are.
Assignments took him worldwide. Included in this retrospective are over 200 images taken in the USA, Canada, Belize, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, China, Hong Kong, both North and South Korea, Bhutan, Tibet, the island of Ireland, Scotland, England, Lisbon, France, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, Poland, Former Yugoslavia, Moscow, Israel and the West Bank, the UAE and Tunisia. He was often photographing areas - be it in the rural United States or behind the Iron Curtain - that magazine readers were unfamiliar with. In this context, his work provided an honest, insightful window onto a wider world for audiences.
Le Garsmeur’s work as a press photographer was recognised internationally. In 1986, he won the World Press Award in the 'Daily Life' category for his work on assignment in China for the Observer.
Now living in Northern Ireland, Le Garsmeur has published several books of landscape photography since retiring from photojournalism. His work is held in a number of international archives and collections.
From 1st June - 22nd July 2023, Gallery I will be the venue for a selection of some of the most important and impactful images of Le Garsmeur's career. This exhibition is his first retrospective.
In addition, Belfast Exposed will host a free Artist Talk with Le Garsmeur on Thursday 29th June at 18:00 in Gallery I. Hear Le Garsmeur talk through his career, some of his most iconic images and his approach to photojournalism.