"From this day, painting is dead." The French painter, Paul Delaroche wrote this phrase in 1839 in his report to the Parliament on the daguerreotype, predecessor of the photograph today. Before being recognized as an independent art form, photography was submitted to a long process of comparison, confrontation, competition and finally emancipation from painting. In our current exhibition of new photographs by Alexeï Vassiliev, this division comes to mind as his aesthetic approach to photography relies on an intimate relationship with painting. How can a mechanical instantaneous image render the complexities and subtleties of a painting that is intrinsically defined by its creation? How can a chemical process replace the challenge of mastering painting in all its matter, thickness, movement and depth?
In his first two series « Dis-Appearances » (2002-2004) and « Troubled Moments» (2004-2006), an intimate relationship with painting was established. The ability to recognize the object before us was obscured by the technique. Faced with his work for the first time the question is likely to come up: is it a photograph? or is it a painting? Once the viewer has overcome the ambiguity of technique, we are seduced by the beauty and sensuality of the artist's work.
In his new series, Z-31(10/12), Vassiliev takes this fusion of photography with painting to a radical new level of expression. The formal aspect of this series is based on references to classical art. The subject of his photographs, however, is based on an artistic state of pure subjectivity. Figures that are indiscernible become ambiguous and endowed with a sense of mystery. The viewer's initial reaction transcends the ambiguity of the medium and is now compelled to accept the loss of any kind of reference point. This series, seeking to integrate a long artistic tradition, presents itself as the missing link between classical painting and contemporary photography. The works present themselves as a fusion of two artistic genres or perhaps the emergence of a new one.
Z-31(10/12) is created from a moment of serendipity and, at the same time, a time of mysterious encounter. The photos come from the depth of deep shadows and are imbued with color. The human subjects of these works may appear to be frenetic or perhaps immersed in a shamanic dance. A captivating spirituality transcends these works. Z-31(10/12) is an ode to art and humanism.
+ Télérama-Alexeï Vassiliev - 148 KB