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6 August 2011

Augustin Rebetez, Rencontres d’Arles 2011


Augustin Rebetez lays claim to his own special universe, no less. A mysterious, sometimes bitter world where images confront one another side by side on staggering wall installations. The work is a buzz with constant interaction—total, discordant, astonishing. And yet there is a manifest and all-pervading harmony. Rebetez has that sense of freedom that goes with the enthusiasm of youth but it is matched with great discipline of execution. With nary a flinch, he is capable of mixing straight documentary images with the occasional grandiose production. He will even make Scotch tape masks and ornaments in order to encase his models in his own emotional reality.

The work of this 2010 Portfolio Review prize-winner displays a spontaneity and an obviousness in the act of creation that is rare in our regions, where art tends to be muzzled by the various theories and schools. His work has a power that touches on the energy of art in its raw state.

For this exhibition, he has grouped together photos from already existing series. First, Hangovers, 2009 adds up to a portrait of ends of parties in the Jura—a direct and intimate look at the implacable solitude and aggressiveness of the early hours of the morning. Second, Tout ce qui a le visage de la colère et n’élève pas la voix(Everything that Looks angry but and doesn’t raise its voice, 2010), is a kind of essay about rebellion, where the silent clamour of anger and powerlessness is in every image. Finally, Blue Devils (2010) and After Dark (2011). The latter is a series shot in the solitude of a Norwegian chalet and blends mystic staging with portraits of terrifying realism: a sense of the back of beyond, the essence of humanity—where cries exist side-by-side with grace, and strange creatures loom up without warning. To this collection of recent work, Rebetez has added stop-motion videos. Here one enters the acerbic, out-of-phase universe of a savage sense of humour which, like a body overwhelmed with tears, shakes all our preconceived ideas about art.. 

Exhibition venue: salle Henri Comte, Rencontres d’Arles 2011.