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The artist

Philippe COGNEE

Philippe COGNEE

Born in 1957 in Nantes (FR) 

Lives and works in Nantes (FR) 

Represented by the gallery Daniel Templon, Paris (FR)


In the 1980s, at a time when its ultimate end was being widely heralded, Philippe Cognée chose to take up the challenge of painting and develop a work about the relationship between painting and photography and then video that he materializes using a very particular technique. Photographic or video images are transferred onto canvas (usually on a wooden backing), then the pattern is repainted with an encaustic paint made from beeswax and coloured pigments. The canvas is then covered in a plastic film over which an iron is applied, heating the wax to liquefy it, spreading out and dissolving the shapes, hence burying the subject in the matter. Once the plastic film has been peeled off, the now blurred image forces the photographic objectivity into a state of collapse and remains as if buried under a smooth and glazed surface materialized by traces of digging. The pictorial gesture has clouded the focusing of the photo; it has disrupted the realistic depiction and proposes a reinterpretation of the photographic and video-graphic images.

The subjects of Philippe Cognée’s painting question memory, whether it is about personal memories if the image is a family photo, or collective memory if it is an image from the media like the satellite shots that he also exploits. Sometimes, he uses references to the history of painting. But his technique always transcends the image’s platitudes and invites us to reconstruct the world, a reality that memory and subjectivity have distorted. Finally, his technique re-questions the fundamentals of painting: from viewpoint, composition and relations with the format of the canvas to the fundamental question of the primacy between subject and technique.

Olivier Grasser

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Artiste Philippe COGNEE