At first glance, Didier Massard’s work may look like oil paintings or digitally rendered artwork. In actuality, the French artist’s images are photos of meticulously constructed dioramas that depict imaginary scenes and landscapes. The stunning, fabricated worlds are translated into sets and props that take months to build in Massard’s studio, before they are carefully arranged and layered, enhanced with subtle lighting, and captured on camera.
Whether it’s a crumbling underwater cathedral, a mystical garden filled with flowers as tall as people, or the ruins of the Tower of Babel in the desert, Massard’s eye-deceiving work is all infused with a beautiful sense of magical realism. Although many of the scenes look like they could actually exist, there is ultimately a hint of fantasy and wonder that solidifies the work as the extraordinary dreams of an artist–what he calls “the completion of an inner imaginary journey.”
The Paris resident, whose work is currently on display under the exhibition title Territories at the Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles until August 23, draws his inspiration from both imagined and real places like China and India. He says, “There were many places in the world I wished to photograph and visit, and I realized that they wouldn’t be as I imagined them. The images I create reflect an idealized world which I try to make credible with the use of fakery. There is a tension due to the fact that the viewer may believe that this idealized and fairy perfection doesn’t exist. At the same time, it could be a possible place.” With this tension, Massard’s work occupies a unique space between truth and lies or dreams and reality, with each image both resembling and differing from our familiar world..