Living and working between France and Ivory Coast, 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.
The past in Gbré's photographs is foreign and unfinished. United by a methodical, often distanced perspective on architecture and landscape as a form of documentary evidence, his work recalls the landmark photography of Lewis Baltz, Stephen Shore, and Guy Tillim.
From Mali to Israel, from Lille to Rabat, he photographs abandoned constructions that bear the traces of the social and political history of their country. François-Xavier Gbré's photographs cast a detached eye on these buildings and the symbolic weight that nations lay upon them.
With his series Tracks, started in 2009, he deals with the symbolism of once-valorized objects, now left behind. His images of interior scenes and the surfaces of abandoned buildings constructed during the colonial era or at the moment of independence sustain an examination of aesthetic and sociopolitical forces on architecture. With a soft radicality, he testifies of an interval, of those swinging moments intensely revealed by architecture.
With a sensibility that is deeply engaged in recording the state of the world and partaking in it through photography, François-Xavier Gbré's photographs reveal a passing, a track. The unexpected object or detail that brings back history is always present, moreover actual. 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.
Image: RCI, Bingerville, 2013