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Artist's Reception: Élaine Excoffier at Stephen Bulger Gallery

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Updated: Monday, January 6, 2014

Series 1996-2011

Exhibition Dates: February 25 – March 24, 2012

Reception for the Artist
Saturday, February 25
2:00 - 5:00 pm

[[5]]Series 1996-2011 represents a survey of Élaine Excoffier's work to date. This broad view allows reflection on the artist's evolution and continued engagement with the history of photography and the portrayal of the female body. It is the link, the tie, the connection between the photographic media and the representation of the female figure that is at the heart of Excoffier's work. Excoffier traces lines on what she sees as tandem developments.

In early work, Rituels (1996) thin, drawn, and often fragmented forms reflect on the idea of model as model woman. Lifelessness cuts perfection and we contemplate the very desire to emulate the "perfect" form. The next series, Dualité (1997), roots Excoffier's interest in photographic history; the figures recall studies of women in motion by Muybridge. This history engaged frames the work as a larger study and interpretation of the female body. The eye is on the female figure, piercing and critical. This work was also made in reaction to the 1935 writings of Claudette de Sèves, Lexique de beauté, which presented the idea of a standard, rules and maintenance of beauty. The duality of the self and projected self, the personal and the societal view, and the struggle to achieve and maintain perfection is achieved by superimpositions of negatives to create a dual image.

Petit lexique de beauté (1999) begins to directly question traditional beauty through overlapping and blurring the female form disolvs. Frustrated, tormented, the figure in these pieces seems to want to break the plane, disappear, escape. In the next two series Obscures (2004) and Obscures (série no. 2) (2006) intangibility is pushed further but this time, perhaps still trapped by the idea of the frame as pedestal, the artist plays with actual vantage and vision. It is as if the female figure, the vision of beauty, the elegant possession has learned to tease control. Tension emerges in frames that lean toward the erotic, the crude, and viewer becomes voyer. The photographic process and history is again engaged through these works by use of the pinhole camera and large format 1914 vintage Kodak Camera. Shape and form appear through the darkness but never completely. Desire mounts as our gaze is incomplete, mysterious, unsatisfied.

Mystery and the sense of drama is also employed in the newest work, Chambres (et autres histoires photographiques)(2011) which has turned somewhat from the figure to highlight objects and invest them with presence. Somehow, even without a form, we feel the sense of one and rich narratives emerge.

This exhibition coincides with the publication of a catalogue of Excoffier's work, Éliane Excoffier: bilan 1996–2008, which was co-published by the Musée régional de Rimouski, the Galerie Simon Blais and the Stephen Bulger Gallery. The catalogue includes an essay by Bernard Lamarche.

For more information on the exhibition, artist, and catalogue please visit the Stephen Bulger Gallery

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