View of “Eric Poitevin,” 2010.

View of “Eric Poitevin,” 2010.

Eric Poitevin

Peter Freeman | 59 rue Quincampoix

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All photography is a montage,” says Eric Poitevin. And, one might have been tempted to add upon leaving his recent show at the Galerie Nelson-Freeman, so is every exhibition: increasingly vertiginous, allowing one to envision infinite possibilities of reconfiguration, but also to appreciate the choices made by the artist. The presentation of the works on this occasion encouraged this impression: Poitevin undertook different strategies on each of the gallery’s two floors. Upstairs, five views of undergrowth were hung opposite two black-and-white diptychs of trees in winter. Chromatic richness and visual abundance dominated; the evocations were sensual and the subjects of meditation open: cycles of life, the beauty of nature, paths that lead nowhere. On the ground floor, by contrast, whiteness and asepsis reigned, in fragmentary images of bodies or of nature. Different formats and subjects were arranged into groups that recalled the polyptych form, as Poitevin established plurivocal circulations and germs of narratives founded on ideogrammatic juxtapositions or constructed through succession, like rebuses.

This array of images was lent a sense of unity by echoes of a formal or analogical nature but mainly by the all-white backgrounds of the images and the light that immerses them, a light that is raw without being harsh, neutral but sensitive, homogeneous and yet vibrant. A thistle (all works untitled, 2010) could enter into dialogue with a shaven male head and the scar that has left its mark there, as a result of what injury we do not know, while the physical resemblances between one human subject and the next—emphasized by the fact that their hair, if they have any, is almost always black—created sequence effects: a seated body seen from behind, then fallen and shown foreshortened . . . What happened in between? Another grouping associated the human and the animal through symbolic forms (a black sheep, a human skull) evoking notions of life and death, sacrifice, but hybridization too. Embodied in concrete images, such notions seem to cease being notions and become things. Finally, space and trace as well as nothingness and disappearance were represented in four photographs, three showing skulls and the other the corner of a hopelessly empty room—empty, that is, except for cracks marking time and through it, an inevitable destruction.

Guitemie Maldonado

Translated from French by Molly Stevens.