Stéphan Gladieu sought to make his own approach to the people of North Korea. During various stays in Pyongyang and in the Korean countryside, the French photographer took a fresh look at a country in the making. He did so without preconceptions, without militantism and without denunciation, succeeding in unravelling the individual from within the group. Stephan Gladieu indeed endeavoured to define a genuine typology, crossing men, women and children, trades and professions, in their workplace and during their leisure time. The portraits of individual figures or groups tap into our need to interpret them in various ways, capturing types and categories like August Sander.
The quote by Victor Hugo, “Form is the essence brought to the surface” conceptualises Stéphan Gladieu’s approach to photography. He devel- ops his work as a portraitist by creating images that become increasingly iconic, luminous and offbeat, blurring the lines between fiction and reality.
As Xavier Canonne writes in his appraisal of the book North Korea by Stéphan Gladieu, “a country looked in the eye, just like the looks exchanged between the photographer and the North Koreans.”
Stéphan Gladieu was born in 1969; he lives and works in Paris. He began his career as a photographer in 1989, covering the news and the major conflicts that shook the world (the fall of Ceausescu, the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans, etc.). During these years working on feature stories, he developed a personal style based on portraits, combining aesthetic research and rigorous documentary work.
Today, he mainly focuses on personal series dealing with historical, anthropological or sociological facts little known to the general public (the Herero genocide in Namibia, the secret societies of Benin, the everyday life of North Koreans, etc.).
His work is regularly exhibited and published both in France and internationally. He is represented by the Olivier Castaing/School Gallery, in Paris.