Exhibition from November 28, 2014 to January 24, 2015
Cécile Fakhoury Gallery is pleased to present the photographic work of Francois-Xavier Gbré in a solo exhibition titled Fragments.
Living and working in Abidjan for the past two years, this mixed-race Ivorian artist, who grew up in the North of France, faces Côte d’Ivoire’s change, economic growth, great urban expansion, and above all vestiges. Step by step, François-Xavier Gbré creates a landscape of his own through a collection of photographs, which reveal hidden aspects of everyday life.
His photographs call upon imagination, while their source is the city – the environment that we inhabit, and in which we evolve as citizens. The Fragments are visual elements, which are each extracted from a wider ground. Far from journalism, they present us with, and bear witness to, a sensibility that is deeply engaged in recording the state of the world and partaking in it through photography.
François-Xavier Gbré explores territories. He is interested in the course, which life restlessly takes before his eyes. Shot after shot, he questions his shifting world. Each image naturally ties to another. Each new composition falls within the extension of a previous one. The search for simplicity is at the core of his work, which brings out the essentials. In the urban confusion, where we sometimes get lost, and throughout his works, the question of our lifestyles, our social interactions and our relation to History, is raised on a local scale, as an echo of universal expression.
The installation, which is composed of details, as well as wider shots and bits of stories, bears a particular relation to the near and the remote. It reveals the artist’s mapped vision of the elements and movements, which are highlighted in his works. Seizing the moment through geography, his passages are imbued with meaningful signs, which he conveys and fixes, takes and dislocates. He forges a bond between continents, personal histories and colonial vestiges, through his images of collapsing walls, dwellings and landscapes, which are reshaped by current events, as well as the passage and erosion of time, just like the lives that they harbour. His photographs are the archives of present time, which are either breaking with or continuing those of the past.
The gaze pauses on the photograph of a neon lamp: a close-up, in which perspective is distorted. Either on the ground, the wall, or the ceiling, this object, which is yet so banal and functional, here becomes a painting, so to speak. It is a still life, the piece of an interior. It doesn’t tell anything to us, it delivers no information. It is simply there. The entire story, its references and clues, are contained within the composition. And imagination is triggered: we guess the rest of the room, its precarious decoration, the potential intensity of this artificial light, in total opposition to the sentiment that the photograph conveys in subtle nuances, in an almost religious silence.
Abidjan is a fast-growing city, in continuous development, where time is accelerated: elements get lost, while others arise. Sometimes both coexist. François-Xavier Gbré crystallises these scenes to recompose a territory.
While relating to one another, several corpuses of photographs mingle. What emerges from this unrelenting work is a dichotomy between the complexity of the images and their legibility, a sensitive approach that speaks to all. The line is pure, and the balance that is reached feels like a soft inflexibility. The absence or even desertion of the human figure is emphasised in this work. The architecture and the construction, like the composite creations of the mind, prevail. Implicitly, we can guess the particular relationship to the environment of the one, who is not mentioned in this story but nevertheless is its protagonist, its author, and its metteur-en-scène.
On a deeper level, the artist shares with us questions regarding his identity. Highly evocative, his images are similar to a tale or a fable, while their rhythm, like prose, is close to free writing. The exhibition, which echoes his creative process and visual surprises, arouses either comprehension or contemplation, always leaving apparent the imperfection of our humanity.
The exhibition Fragments is a photographic ensemble, which allows each image to stand on its own, strongly. One shot after another, this work focuses on the unexpected. Throughout a spontaneous proposition, which is open to new angles and different approaches, the objects that are subjected to the gaze give a sense of constancy, all the way while expressing their singularity.