Bizarre or trending subjects, catch a break with our curiosity of the week. The French artist Stéphane Guillaume never ceases to question, distort and reconstruct reality. Through his series Décorum, Retouche, Ici, or Looking for Bacon, he offers a fascinating reflection on the tangible and the intangible.
“Information should provide a stable understanding of the world and constitute progress. But our hyper-information society disturbs my perception of reality,”
says Stéphane Guillaume. After teaching art, he returned to the medium a few years ago. Since then, he has “flittered from one project to another without worrying too much about the apparent coherence of the whole – by refusing to dig the same furrow, and for the pleasure of exploration”.
His leitmotiv? To question and rewrite reality. It is with his Decorum series, that he started his reflection on the notion of intervention. “At the time, I was directly modifying reality. I was trying to bring out a parallel reality that could play with the unconscious,” recalls the artist. He continued to rewrite reality in his subsequent series Retouche, Ici, and Looking for Bacon. “Capturing reality fascinates me, but I am interested in its derealization. I like the tension between the specular dimension and strangeness”, adds Stéphane Guillaume. So he transforms and remodels scenes from his life, or faces by adding forms – masks that have become visual intrusions. In Looking for Bacon, for instance, he photographed televised debates and deconstructed figures whose “voice are supposed to make sense”.
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“Does the perception of reality have more power over us than reality itself? The artist questions himself and opens up an infinite space for thought. We live in a world where reality is presented to us transformed, filtered. It eludes us. Shouldn’t we be wary of the apparent proximity of photography to it?”. As René Magritte did, he questions the notion of representation in an image. And like Francis Bacon, he disfigures, dislocates surfaces, faces, and ultimately humanity. However disconcerting and even violent, his images captivate. “To change reality is to create insecurity, something uncomfortable. It is perhaps a way of questioning the assurance and confidence we want to find in the tangible,” he explains. Loss of meaning, redefinition of our identities or the disappearance of the human being? Stéphane Guillaume’s images offer multiple interpretations and perspectives.
© Stéphane Guilaume