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GEORGES ROUSSE | 'METZ' AND 'CAMBRAI'
May 17th 2019
Rousse is first and foremost a photographer. However, rather uniquely his work extends well beyond this medium - also using painting, sculpture, and a passion for architecture, to achieve his distinctive visual concepts. When first encountering a Georges Rousse photograph, you may ask yourself - what exactly am I looking at? The image appears as an abandoned architectural space, which is interrupted by a bright, flat plane seemingly floating on the surface of the paper. This plane appears two-dimensional, as if it has been digitally layered over the original photograph - but appearances can be deceiving!
by Tessa Yee
NEWS FROM EYESTORM
What you are actually looking at is a carefully constructed physical space, painstakingly transformed through painting and staged as an artist’s installation on site. With the click of Rousse’s camera from the perfect angle (of which there exists, only one), an incredible optical illusion is formed - bringing together the real and imagined spaces, and causing us to question our own visual understanding.

Contemporary French artist, Georges Rousse was born in Paris in 1947, and formed an interest in photography from an early age when he received a Kodak Brownie camera as a gift at the age of 9. Despite initially pursuing studies in medicine, he eventually went on to study photography full-time, dedicating himself entirely to his artistic practice and following in the footsteps of such great American masters as Steichen, Stieglitz and Ansel Adams. With strong interests in the Bauhaus movement, and abstract artists such as Malevich who’s ‘Black Square’ formed an integral influence on his work, Rousse combined photography with creating his own installations in space. His first exhibition was at the Galerie de France, Paris, 1981, and since then he has been widely exhibited, with several international exhibitions including at the Art Center in Lyon, the Missokhan Gallery in Kobe, and the Johyun Gallery in Seoul.
Georges Rousse

Cambrai (1996) , 2000

40(w) x 50(h) cm
15.75(w) x 19.69(h) inches
Glossy chromogenic print.

Stamped and numbered on front.
Edition of 100
PRICE
$ 780.00
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Working with photography well before digital technology and the use of Photoshop, Rousse’s images have always been constructed first in a physical site before his photographs are taken and then developed in the darkroom. The ‘canvas’ on which Rousse creates his images, are derelict, abandoned spaces, and soon to be condemned, meaning his installations will always cease to exist eventually. On site, Rousse and his team of assistants will stage his visual concept using projections and pencil markings to map out the areas that are to be painted. Remarkably, despite the installations being incredibly complex to construct, they are never meant to be seen by a viewer in situ. Although they initially exist as three-dimensional spaces, they are only intended to be seen from one particular angle - the one that Rousse then photographs from.

In 2000, Eyestorm was privileged to work with Rousse to release two exclusive editions titled Metz and Cambrai. The works represent Rousse’s ability to transform derelict architectural sites into works of art, which are surreal in nature and shift between the idea of real and imagined spaces.

In Metz, the viewer is looking straight down a narrow concrete room filled with large crescent-shaped cut-outs. The sense of depth is interrupted by a bright green circle, which in the photograph appears as a flat plane on the surface of the paper. In reality the surfaces of the room and the cut-outs have been carefully painted so that they form a perfect circle when viewed from this particular angle. Yet, even with this understanding of Rousse’s process, as viewers it can be difficult to interpret the image as it is - a photograph of an installation and not a digital enhancement. This illusion challenges us constantly as we explore the work, inviting us to look that little bit longer and attempt to visually understand the complex set-up of the space.
Georges Rousse

Metz (1994) , 2000

50(w) x 40(h) cm
19.69(w) x 15.75(h) inches
Glossy chromogenic print.

Stamped and numbered on front.
Edition of 100
PRICE
$ 780.00
COLLECT NOW
 
 
  THANK YOU FOR MAKING AN OFFER  
  YOU WILL RECEIVE AN EMAIL SHORTLY WITH A COPY OF YOUR OFFER  
 
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In a similar way, Cambrai’s flat red square appears to be floating on the surface of the paper, quite unrelated to the image that sits behind it. In this piece, the image appears almost like an architectural plan - the identical rooms and barred doors alluding to the space as a former prison. Here, Rousse takes an unusual perspective, looking down from the corner of the room as if looking through a surveillance camera. The photograph also appears like a negative, creating an unsettling feeling for the viewer, which is only further enhanced by the presence of the strange floating square. Like Metz, it is easy to get lost in the surreal nature of this work, and to question what we are really looking at.

While the original installations are now lost - the buildings long condemned and destroyed - Rousse’s photographs forever immortalise his original artistic intention for them. The photographs hide the true chaos of the space, bringing the visual elements together from that one perfect angle, and freezing time with the click of the camera - never allowing the illusion to be broken.

Since his first exhibition in 1981 Georges Rousse has created a number of installations all over the world, exhibiting in Europe, Asia (Japan, Korea, China, Nepal.), the United States, Quebec and Latin America. He has participated in numerous biennials in Paris, Venice and Sydney, and is included in many major collections internationally including the Guggenheim, New York, Museum of Modern Art, Vienna, and the National Museum of Modern Art, Paris.

You can find the two photographic editions, Metz and Cambrai, in more detail on Georges Rousse’s artist’s page here.
 
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