| P E O P L E |
Photographer, Entrepreneur & Politician | Paris
French politician, aviation pilot, business leader, media tycoon, musician, composer and celebrated photographer, the multi-talented Olivier Dassault is a luminous artist who harnesses the power of light in his striking photography.
Olivier Dassault is the perfect example of an heir who has made the finest of his privileged upbringing. Born into one of France's most significant family dynasties founded by his legendary grandfather, Marcel Dassault, Olivier has achieved great success in a wide variety of fields: serving as Deputy in the French National Assembly, the current President of the multinational Dassault Communication Group, a world record holder for speed (in a Dassault Falcon jet), a composer of film scores and an artistic photographer. What is the link between his diverse talents? "Whatever I do is driven by an obsession to add beauty to what already exists", he says, inviting beauty into the conversation. "In arts, of course, but in politics as well, I always try to bring something positive to the world."
Although he pursued a scientific path as his formal education, his encounter with art dates further back to his early childhood. "My mother often took me to museums and exhibitions, training my eyes to understand many forms of arts", he says. "Later, whenever I was travelling, I used to send her postcards of the museums that I'd visited, to show her that I had absorbed her teachings." His grandfather also had a tremendous influence on Olivier's artistic talents throughout his life. "I remember my grandfather's collection of Impressionist masterpieces and his taste for art", he reflects. "He not only took me by his side to give me the opportunity to pursue different careers, he also allowed me to publish my first photography in Jours de France magazine even though the photographs didn't fit the classic style of the magazine at that time."
Olivier Dassault was only a child when he received his first camera. Since then, he always carries one close to him, enabling him to capture a moment of instantaneous light when the opportunity arises. Magical light, stealthy light, and obsessive light – this is what he is constantly searching for. "I love the moment when I have a timeless encounter with a rare, short-lasting or unique type of light", he explains. "It's what makes photography particularly magical".
What does he consider one of his most emblematic photography works to date? "I would say my 'Spirit Wall' piece", he responds. "I had a sudden vision after having seen the same wall hundreds of times, where I discovered a new perspective due to a particular type of light that was cast upon the wood. The sun acted as a spotlight and needed to be captured at the perfect moment."
Light has become so magical in Olivier Dassault's work and life that it even guides where he prefers to travel. "More than choosing a particular country to visit, instead I tend to select destinations that have a specific type of light", he says. "I've had the opportunity to travel a great deal, and India really struck me due to its wonderful variety of colours and its spectacular monuments. I also visited Mexico with French film-maker, François Reichenbach. I recall that during a Día de Todos los Santos (All Saints' Day) national celebration one year, there were colours simply everywhere – including painted over the local houses, and covering the traditional women's and children's clothing. That is a really beautiful memory of mine."
Today, Olivier Dassault's work has evolved towards abstraction and superimposition, letting light take its full dimension. His work has been exhibited internationally in many cities, such as Oslo, Hong Kong, Palm Springs and Paris. What does success as a photographer mean to him? "The real acknowledgment as a photographer comes when someone purchases your work, when there is a true intention for someone to purchase and collect masterpieces", he responds.
What is the advice that he would give to the next generation? "I would tell the young generation to never give up, even if your goal seems out of reach", he says. "Nothing is impossible in life. There is a Hebrew saying, 'Forget what you give but always remember what you get.'"
Interview: Enrique Nalda & Kimberley McLoughlin
Portrait: Marie Klein
Photography: Olivier Dassault
Interview first published in RedVisitor Magazine: Issue Two - Purchase Now
M O R E I N T E R V I E W S . . .