Gilbert Garcin in Arles
Everything began in the summer of 1995, when Gilbert Garcin, recently retired but quite simply wanting a second life, decided to launch into photography and, in order to so, participated in classes at the Rencontres d’Arles. Here he practised photomontage, which would be his first source of inspiration. From that time on, using himself as a stand-in, he imagined a universal character whose initial outfit could have been borrowed from Jacques Tati’s Monsieur Hulot. The Gilbert Garcin character grew into an ambiguous embodiment of himself, through which he acted out staged, deceptively ludicrous situations, which he described as ‘small philosophies’, in the style of the great Alfred Hitchcock.
His work casts its spell because Gilbert Garcin shows us obvious things that concern us all: life passing by, the fleeting nature of time, the tenacity required to continue Hence, he recalls in images, along with the help of evocative titles, that it is preferable to ‘do one’s best’ and to ‘know one’s limits’, because, deep down, all we’re doing is ‘replaying old familiar tunes’, those of Sisyphus and Atlas.
Parallel to this, Monsieur Garcin, a pragmatic man, has based his work on a rigorous method: producing a weekly photographic essay featuring his ‘character’ in a makeshift set that he has also devised. Thanks to such determination, over some twenty years a corpus of more than four hundred photographs has built up. And like all great artists, his style and his universe have imposed themselves and charmed a very large public, both professional and amateur alike. Mister G is now known throughout the world, through his exhibitions and publications, but also through the thousands of references to him found on the Internet. The major retrospective the Rencontres d’Arles dedicates to him is a long-awaited homage to this brilliant oeuvre.
Christine Ollier, director of Les filles du calvaire gallery.
Exhibition venue: Atelier de Chaudronnerie, Parc des Ateliers, Rencontres d’Arles 2013.