Poetic and sublime are the words that come to mind when viewing the astonishing works of Gregory Colbert.Colbert was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1960. He began his career in Paris in 1983 making documentary films on social issues. His first exhibition, Timewaves, opened in 1992 at the Museum of Elysée in Switzerland to wide critical acclaim. For the next ten years, Colbert did not publicly share his art or show any films. Instead, he traveled to such places as India, Burma, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Dominica, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tonga, Namibia, and Antarctica to film and photograph interactions between human beings and animals. Since 1992, he has launched expeditions on every continent and has collaborated with over 150 species. Elephants, whales, manatees, sacred ibis, Antigone cranes, royal eagles, Gyr falcons, rhinoceros hornbills, cheetahs, leopards, African wild dogs, caracals, baboons, eland, meerkats, gibbons, orangutans, penguins, pandas, and saltwater crocodiles are among the animals he has filmed and photographed. Human subjects include Burmese monks, San bushmen, Tsaatan reindeer herders, the Masai, Lissu, Long-necked Karen, Mong, and Chong tribes, and people from other indigenous tribes around the world.
Colbert debuted Ashes and Snow at the Arsenale in Venice, Italy, in 2002. The exhibition went on to open in the first Nomadic Museum in 2005 in New York City. Ashes and Snow and the Nomadic Museum then traveled to Santa Monica in 2006, Tokyo in 2007, and Mexico City in 2008. It is charted to travel the globe indefinitely.
Ashes and Snow has been a critical and popular success. Photo magazine declared, “A new master is born.” Ashes and Snow has been described as "extraordinary" by the Economist, and "distinctive . . . monumental in every sense" by the Wall Street Journal. Stern magazine described the photographs as "fascinating," and Vanity Fair declared Gregory Colbert "Best of the Best." The New York Times, in an article by Alan Riding, stated, “The power of the images comes less from their formal beauty than from the way they envelop the viewer in their mood. . . .They are simply windows to a world in which silence and patience govern time.”
To date, Ashes and Snow has attracted over 10 million visitors, making it the most attended exhibition by a living artist in history. [via Gregory Colbert's official bio ]
"I have been tusked by an elephant, almost eaten by a sperm whale, knocked off my feet by a rhinoceros, embraced by a jaguar, given a haircut by a tiger shark, chased by a hippo and a black mamba, brought to my knees by malaria and dengue. But I was able to avoid the greatest danger of all. Never stop exploring the things that open you, or that you love."
~ Gregory Colbert
**click on images for a larger view**
Gregory Colbert and his playful subject