The new Leica Gallery has opened in Paris, with direct access to the Village Royal in the city’s elegant Quartier de la Madeleine in the 8th Arrondissement. The venue’s first exhibition presents a selection from Paul Cupido’s current series. In 2022, the photographer was chosen for the yearly Instants Residency by Château Palmer, one of the most famous wineries in Bordeaux, and Leica. We spoke with Cupido about his poetic series, which he has also just published in extended form as a book.

What is the background to your current series?
The book was made during the Instants Residency, in about a year and divided over the four seasons. All images were made at Château Palmer and the surroundings of Bordeaux. A good friend of mine, Chloé Azzopardi, who is also an artist photographer, helped me a lot with performances and assisting. At the Château, it was very clear that the winemakers all cooperate together – a holistic approach. I was able to use this continuum and the sense-of-place as an inspirational canvas on which to create my work. With the book, cooperation is very present as well, as this is never something you can do alone.

How did you experience the place where you did your artist residency?
During my visits to Château Palmer, I had the opportunity to meet and get to know the people, see its geographical location along the rich banks of the Garonne, and get a taste of the château’s philosophy and heritage, and the circular way the beautiful wines are made. I was very impressed by the château, the animals, the soil, the growing, the devotion. My goal and wish are to make a poetic interpretation of these elements, like a composer conveying feelings into notes or a winemaker interpreting what nature gives us.

What do you associate with the title Séléné, the moon goddess who causes the change between day and night in Greek mythology?
Associatively and creatively, Séléné is also linked to other sources such as the Japanese folk tale of the bamboo cutter. In the biologically dynamic viticulture of Château Palmer, the position of the moon is essential. I believe in the philosophy that a project can write itself: the title came in a natural way and immediately felt good.

Has the moon always played a special role in your life?
Yes. I grew up in the middle of nature on the island of Terschelling (Netherlands) and, in retrospect, I can now say that it made me very aware of the cycles of life. Ebb and flow, the seasons, the lighthouse that briefly lit up my bedroom every 4 seconds. Watching starts at night. The notion of the moon controlling the tides, makes you feel void, realizing the existential. I find it endlessly fascinating. We are a tiny element of an immense universe, in which everything is connected to everything.

What equipment did you work with this time?
I used three Leica cameras, the X-U, the S3 with a Summarit-S 70 lens, and my beloved SL2-S with a Leica Summaron-M 28 f/5.6. On top of that, Leica France gave me the luxury of choosing a selection of different lenses. I used the Leica Noctilux-M 75 a lot. It was very hard to give that one back at the end of the residency.

How much post-processing do you do on the different images?
I cannot explain images in technical detail, as most of the photographs are simply lucky accidents. My work actually consists of two phases: the photographing itself, the collecting, when I often travel and really step outside my comfort zone. I get inspiration from the adventure, capturing a moment as it comes, without planning too much. Nature inspires me endlessly. The second phase is at home, in my studio. That is my comfort zone. My work is often a combination of multiple photos. I put all the prints in front of me and start sliding them around intuitively. Sometimes something immediately arises, and I have three new images within two hours. It can also take longer, sometimes months, even years. The trick is not to force anything; to listen to what the work itself wants.

The exhibition at the Leica Gallery Paris runs until June 30.
The photo book, Séléné is published by Filigranes Éditions, with a text by Ryoko Sekiguchi.
Issue 4/2023 of the LFI magazine presents a comprehensive portfolio by Paul Cupido.

Paul Cupido was born on the Dutch island of Terschelling in 1972. After graduating from the Fotoakademie Amsterdam, he first travelled to Japan, followed by the tropical zones of the Brazilian Amazon. To this day, the photographer’s work is inspired by Zen Buddhism; his interest lies in the fleeting and eternal beauty of nature. Find out more about his photography on his website and Instagram page.

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