Gilles Pourtier / série Labor Sculptures

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Gilles Pourtier belongs to a generation of artists trained in photography, for whom the medium is a means of questioning our relationship with the world. While his body of work includes many photographs and snapshots, he also uses other means of expression that question the image in contemporary society. His works take the form of stone sculptures, neon lights and false monochromes, all of which reflect a questioning of our environment. And when he invokes old techniques such as the daguerreotype or the cyanotype, it is to better confront them with the most contemporary electronic imaging techniques. Like so many other artists, Gilles Pourtier believes that we have unfortunately unlearned to see the nature of images correctly, and that our gaze is now subject to a kind of immediacy of perception. The image in the media and on networks contradicts the long time needed for full recognition of the photographic image (with its composition, printing effects and scale) as thought by the great photographers of the 20th century. This is the case with the series of drawings Labor Sculptures, which isolate the rare appearances of human figures in old photographs by Bernd and Hilla Bécher, details that the hurried eye fails to perceive. In this case, the blindness of the eye was reinforced by the Bechers' own assertion that they had eliminated any human presence in the most objective views possible, the better to affirm the plastic structure of nineteenth-century industrial architecture. With these drawings enlarging a detail from a photograph, Gilles Pourtier is both restoring dignity to anonymous figures and offering us a reflection on the habits of the eye. The drawing, in a nod to Becher, also becomes an ‘anonymous sculpture’, but this time applied to people instead of architecture. Each drawing costs €1,800.


Data sheet

graphite on Arches paper 300 g
File format
20 × 25 cm
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