Photographie et Vidéo
Christophe Guye Galerie, Mixed-media, Zurich, Switzerland
Thursday October 4, 2012 - Saturday November 24, 2012 - Event ended.
Christophe Guye Galerie is proud to announce its upcoming exhibition Photographie et Vidéo, introducing the work of the internationally acclaimed French artist Stéphane Couturier. Since his solo exhibition at the Musée de l’Elysée 1996 it is his first solo exhibition in Switzerland, which will present the large-scale works from his renowned series Melting Point. With “figurative abstraction” Couturier creates absorbing images that visualise continuous movement and transformation.
Capturing archetypes emblematic of 20th century Western civilization Couturier breaks the set photographic perspective framework, letting content and form adapt and unify with the ever accelerating technological world we find ourselves in. At once documentation, critique, and representation the works shown with Photographie et Vidéo explore and question how modern cultures simultaneously construct and destroy.
The upcoming solo exhibition presents the artist’s much acclaimed series Melting Point and Melting Power. Photographie et Vidéo will present a selection of eleven large-format, double layered C-Prints from various bodies of works from the continuous project that is Melting Point, in combination with multipart video installation Brasilia – Musée d’Art Contemporain. Visually complex these works are a flurry of motion, bursting with colour, dramatic effects, and brilliant technique. The levels of horizontal and vertical lines mixed with graceful curves create layers of mesmerising vision that document the uninterrupted movement of industry – rationalised, disembodied, automated, and more and more subject to the hushed logic of revenue. Unquestionably one of the most important French contemporary artists, Couturier’s architecture-inspired photographs and cityscapes are the result of a special image-building that uses photography’s and film’s properties and possibilities to create fleeting states between documentation and fiction.
A part of Melting Point, Couturier’s engaging images of large-scale multifaceted photographs from Usine Toyota depicting a high-tech Toyota assembly plant in Valenciennes, north of Paris, were nominated for the 2011 Prix Pictet. The theme for the third cycle of the this prestigious award was “Growth”, for which artists were chosen whose work embrace and confront one of the great challenges facing humanity at present. Exploring how modern cultures simultaneously construct and destroy, the works from Melting Point perfectly correspond with the set focus, the energy and vigour of his works accentuating the momentary turbulence of metropolitan parts of the world.
Alongside works from Usine Toyota the exhibition Photographie et Vidéo will show works from Usine Alstom, Brasilia, Chandigarh, as well as Couvent La Tourette – the later two both strongly linked to their creator, the acclaimed architect Le Corbusier, whose historic architectural theory strongly correlates with Couturier’s basic principle of a compositional image and often symbolic visual language. Furthermore, as Corbusier created concepts of utopian quality, Couturier’s crafted images, which initially appear absolutely authentic due to their factual documentary features and only reveal their illusory surprise under more intensive analysis.
Working with a large format camera, Couturier creates highly meticulous prints, which expand the viewer’s understanding of the vast possibilities of a simple photograph. With a highly conceptual glance at urban happenings and with possibilities of image manipulation, Couturier presents us at once with various exposed colour negatives; complex fusings of two moments in time that are at once dizzying abstractions and clear-cut recordings to get lost with in. Machines, car parts, building segments, wires, windows and more all compete for the viewer’s attention – images of industry simultaneously out of control and in perfect harmony.
Control and madness; clarity and ambiguity; destruction and construction; motion and frozen stillness of a moment. Melting Point is a multifaceted accumulation of juxtapositions, making these works on view so fascinating and gripping. Couturier plays with visual protocols and purposefully intangible orientation, thus diverting the documentary aspect of photography to shift and transcend its narrative dimension, which as a result questions the mediums reputation as beholder of truth. Due to his complex presentation of various vistas at one given time, the work of Couturier has been attributed with cubistic characteristics, while furthermore often compared to those of his German contemporaries, such as Andreas Gursky and Thomas Struth, who advocate a painting-like photographic practice.
Complimenting the photographic works the video Brasilia – Musée d’Art Contemporain will be presented. As does the evolution of his series follow a coherent development, the eventual integration of video as a medium was self-evident to reinforce the effects of time on a given space. The architecture of growing cities, such as Brasilia, present the artist with a perfect stage for his aim to make sensitive the extreme complexity of the contemporary world though his examination of formal structures. A twisting of perspectives, this video is constituted of two recordings made inside the new Museum of Contemporary Art. Erected almost in the centre of Brasilia this dome is presented both as the central focus, with a whole series of perspectives, but also a sanctuary amidst the city’s tumult. Letting us witness the forces that are located at the centres of urban landscapes, Couturier’s video work further enhances his iconographic fusion embedded in the discussion regarding “painting without painting”.
Stéphane Couturier was born in Neuilly sur Seine, France, in 1957. To date Couturier has created four major series: Urban Archaeology, viewing the city as a living organism; his Monuments series where he focused on mushrooming housing developments; Landscaping, which revolved around the uniformity and repetitiveness of these landscapes; and his latest series Melting Point. Following his first solo exhibition at the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne in 1996, Couturier has showed his work in numerous venues in France and Europe, as well as the US. His work has been presented at the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie in Arles, France, in 2001, the University Art Gallery in San Diego in 2003, the International Centre of Photography in New York in 2006, Centre Georges Pompidou in 2008, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston 2011, and had received a retrospective of his work at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris, in 2004, and another in 2010 at the Blickle Foundation in Germany, and the Landesmuseum Linz, Austria, the following year. Similarly in 2011 his video as well as photographic works were shown in the exhibition Hochhaus – Wunsch und Wirklichkeit in the Museum für Gestalltung in Zurich. Couturier’s photographs can be found in over 50 major museum and corporate collections around the world, including Musée de l’Elysée, Centre Georges Pompidou, Los Angeles County Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, National Gallery of Canada, or the Grand-Duc Jean Museum in Luxembourg. Moreover, Couturier was awarded the Nicephore Niepce prize in 2003, the 1999 Grant of Ville de Paris, and the Prix Paris-Photo in 1998 to name a few. On 30th of September, Couturier will partake in the exhibition in the Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts in La Chaux-de-Fonds celebrating the 125th birthday of Le Corbusier.