SEGUIN, Jean-Pierre

CONCRETE PORTRAITS • ABSTRACT CONTEXT

For several years, I’ve been working on systems of representation in portraiture and on ways producing portraits. Relationships between photographic portraits and pictorial portraits are an integral part of my work. Thus, I’ve used several two-dimensional strategies to disturb viewers’ perceptions, strategies that prompt them to move about and try broaching the portrait from different distances. Through his or her motion, the spectator becomes a kind of zoom lens, varying focal length to produce effects of nearness and distance. Approaching the image to get a better look, viewers lose their grip on the identifiable reality of the photograph; reference points that normally serve to guide viewers of photography evade them here. The spectator must then fall back on a purely formal, even abstract reading. By eliminating superfluous and decorative elements of representation, I strive to display the procedures that go into making a portrait.

I photograph contemporary artists to pay them homage, but also because it allows me to play on the identification of the represented individual, depending on reading distance. The photographs are taken as objectively as possible, that is, I don’t try to exploit the characters’ expression or their prestige. Rather, I try to capture the anthropometric features, which, in a sense, constitute the core of individual identification. In the last four years, I met and photographed several Canadian, American, and European artists — Guido Molinari, Michel Goulet, Chuck Close, Michael Snow, Miquel Barcelo, Raymonde April, Melvin Charney, among others — who’ve allowed me to work from their portraits. From these snapshots, I produced digital portraits so that I could modify them and generate multiple perceptions of the image. Motifs created on the computer replace the strokes of paint that usually serve to create a representation. This way of producing, while allowing for the addition of formal elements to the image, also fosters a much closer and more abstract reading of the photographic representation.

True to the principle, I built a portrait using thousands of different puzzle pieces in order, again, to obtain multiple perceptions of the image. In this particular case, it is the build-up through superimpositions and juxtapositions that replaces the forms and colours normally used in generating a representation. I search through piles of puzzle pieces to find those that best suit the part of the portrait that I want to represent. This makes it possible to add relief to the image, to discover other ways of perceiving and making a portrait. With the generous support of Canadian Buttons, Limited, I also created a portrait using some three thousand custom-made buttons, work that arose from my observations of print screens.

Finally, I have several projects under way that lead me to use different procedure and compose with different materials in view of discovering other ways of obtaining both a figurative and an abstract perception of the portrait on the same surface. I am looking for something very concrete in the context of abstract work.




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