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Seeking solitude The secret world of monasteries, revealed

From Geneva photographer Patrick Gilliéron Lopreno comes “Monasteries,” a voyage into the hidden world of contemplative monks who shut themselves away for self-improvement.

“Through my photographs, I hope to have been able to bring about a deep sense of respect for the contemplative life; even if, for me, there exists a profound experience of communion in the heart of solitude,” Lopreno writes in the preface to “Monasteries”. The book was produced in the style of classic Swiss photographic albums, similar to those published by Charles-Henri Favrod in the 1960s.

Taken in black and white, Lopreno’s images recall those of another talented Swiss photographer who worked in the 1970s. “I owe a major debt to the photographer Marcel Imsand,” Lopreno writes. “My book is focused on the emotional, the intimate and the interior.”

The subtle beauty of the 78 images selected for the book is enhanced by a text from the religious historian Philippe Borgeaud: "The real, revealed in its nakedness. The effect of taking away.”

And, writes Borgeaud of the residents of the four monasteries visited by Lopreno, “the monk hides himself, as invited by Christ to seek the One who sees in secret.”

“The photograph gives us the time to look and see, to stay in the moment and penetrate its mystery. "