"Take these two words, gold and pleasure, for a lantern, and explore the great cage of Paris."
-Honore De Balzac
“We want you to go to Paris” they said. Well it was work so off I went. Everyone I suppose develops their own personal relationship with the city. For some it starts with a book, a film, or maybe a visit. Such was the case with me as I started traveling to Paris to complete a vast project our firm was designing in the Middle East. It was not my first visit to the city of light. My parents had dragged me around to the sites when I was fourteen and the endless churches, museums and brasseries had not gone over well and I spent much of the vacation complaining about the l’eau avec le gaz and seeking out unattended pinball machines. This time it was different. Like so many previous generations of romantics, I suppose, I fell in love with Paris.
During those first couple of weekends, with trusty map in hand, I started feeling my way around, gradually sifting through the layers of this extraordinary mille-feuille of a city. Over the course of the next year, a sketchbook went with me everywhere. Often I wandered at will, with no predetermined destination in mind. Whenever I saw something that interested me, I turned another page in the sketchbook.
Drawing is my method of remembering things. Before I sketch, I tend to simply look at the subject intensely for an extended period of time. Because it is only in the looking itself that the image becomes etched into my brain.
As I returned to the city again and again, and I began to stay longer each successive visit, my initial impressions evolved. I began to reach a deeper understanding of the city, how it worked and my place in it. Then, just when I was convinced that I had it all figured out, Paris would startle me yet again with the depth of its beauty or reveal something totally unexpected.
So that is the genesis of this collection. It is an incidental and casual visual diary, spontaneous and haphazard, but governed always by one overriding aim: to try to absorb and to ultimately capture "the great cage that is Paris."