It’s been a long overdue post, but just in time for Christmas, as those two books are wonderful gifts for people loving art and photography. Jean-Paul Bourdier, the author and photographer behind those books, contacted me a while back and graciously sent me his books to showcase on Nude and Happy. So a big thank you, Jean-Paul, for those wonderful books who are now featured in a good place on my personal library.
So let’s go for a review. First and foremost, before diving into each book individually, those are big, heavy and beautiful books. This is why it’s great to be able to consider them as gifts for you or people who love art and photography. You will not be disappointed. Let’s start with the presentation of the author done on Amazon:”Jean-Paul Bourdier is a photographer of unique style, skilled passion and compelling imagination. His images balance across the nexus of multiple crafts – among them painting, poetry, and performance art. His work is stunningly original, brimming with self-assurance, and paradoxically, both simple and yet complex.”
The stage is set for those two volumes of stunning images. Both books are what we call “coffee table” books. This means you can leave them on your coffee table for you and your guest to flip through.
Jean-Paul Bourdier introduces the book by stating that “to be Unbound, free from restraint, is to simply be … to exist without
the restriction and tyranny of being “named” or defined.” I think it defines what you will find inside, unbound bodies, free of gravity, free of any definition but surprise, beauty and color. It also defines well what many naturists and nudists want about naturism and nudism. It’s not about being “named” nudist or naturist, it’s just about being, and enjoying life in a free manner, free of clothing and social norms that impose to be clothed.
The book is structured in three parts: trees, dreams and ancestors. It starts with the exploration of physical elements like trees, then the ethereal plan, dreams, and finally our culture through our ancestors. With over 250 pages, there’s a lot to look at. Beyond the beautiful photos, which are shot on an analog camera, what I really loved are the author’s notebook extracts. It provides insight in the creative process and how Jean-Paul Bourdier imagines the photos he’s going to shoot.
It’s really insightful to see that every photo requires preparation, careful thinking and has a story that is built in the photograph’s mind. What is fantastic is to be able to compare the idea to its realisation. This requires to go back and forth, to look for details and play a detective role. You can do this on every page and this is a fascinating journey into creativity.
At the end of each part, the Notes from field gives voice to the models. They exchange their feelings and experiences, providing another layer of insights into JPB’s work. After the mesmerising Way of Trees comes the Way of Dreams. Dreams plunge us into the unconscious, into an ethereal world and this is what each picture reveal. Our rational mind knows the picture is unreal, although it moves us to a level where we can let our imagination wander without the constraints of reality.
The Way of Dreams somehow prepares the Way of Ancestors where JPB introduces an element of pictorial art that belongs to our humanity’s past. From Botticelli to Delacroix, from Greece to Egypt, from religions to modern brands, from prehistoric age to the future, each page is a surprise and a firework of colors.
I’m still unsure which part I like the best, because each brings its own narrative and rings a different bell in our subconscious mind.
If some Body Unbound pictures touched on a spiritual level, Body Mirror is more hooked on that level and reveals the spiritual side of our lives. This body of work is the contemplation of human beings’ passage on earth and their intimate interrelation with the environment. This book attempts to bring humour to the things we are getting attached to. It points at the invisible within the visible, the immaterial within the material or the vertical nature of being (and its mirror-like quality) within our horizontal way of living (where our mind, time, and space condition our experiences).
The book, like Body Unbound, is structured around three distinct parts: Beginning, Living, and Returning. It mixes land art, body art, painting and performance with photography. Inside those three parts, ten interviews of JPB are woven in a tightly knit canvas of words and incredible pictures.
Those interviews provides a glimpse of the life, work and mind of JPB. They help us understand his creative work, his experiences and what drives him to invent and take those picturesque photographs.
In Body Mirror, JPB uses light, contrast, transparency and colours to invite us on a journey of astonishment and artistic wonder. Open the book, and flip each page slowly, spending enough time diving into JPB’s world. Here’s a glimpse of his work.
Body Mirror and Body Unbound are not the typical naturist books. However, they both magnify the naked body and provide a special focus and lens on our humanity and its relation to our environment. Every time I open one of them, I’m still in awe and love spending time discovering new details and being amazed at the beauty of each word and image.
I hope those few words and pictures will give you the desire to purchase those books. Body Mirror and Body Unbound are perfect gifts for Christmas, for yourself or beloved ones. Art is a wonderful way to keep faith in humanity and to be amazed at the incredible creativity of artists. They both provide a great way to talk about artistic nudity, social nudity and nudism, and contributes to showing that the naked body is not something to hide. Enjoy Body Mirror and Body Unbound!
Strip Nude, Stay Nude, Live Nude and Share the Nude Love!
All pictures © Jean-Paul Bourdier are used with his and his publisher’s authorisation.