26 April – 26 May 2023
Jean-Vincent Simonet is best described as an alchemist, creating pictures that sit uneasily in the borderlands between photography, sculpture, and painting. His unique approach is a result of his family heritage and his fascination with the process behind image making. After the establishment of a successful career as a photographer, he returned to his family’s industrial printing factory, realising the huge potential for experimentation that was offered by industrial printing machines.
Simonet began to understand that through using heat, humidity and different drying methods, he could transform, erase, vanish, almost sculpt the surface of a print. The resulting works of art, seen in this exhibition, are printed on a plastic foil-type surface that has been put through a variety of processes whilst the ink is not yet fixed. No two pieces can ever be identical even if they are made from the same original file and the physicality involved and gestural expression that Simonet brings to each print is finally fixed when it is run through water for the last time.
This exhibition includes selects from two recent series – Flowers, Novembre, an on-going body of work that began in 2018, and Sapporo Lights, made in 2022 and seen here for the first time. Both bodies of work centre around images of flowers. For Novembre he builds floral still lives in the studio, using lighting systems that emphasises the artifice of the object, its gradients and hues, placed in deliberately uncanny compositions.
In contrast to the staged floral abstractions of Novembre, all taken on a medium-format camera, Sapporo Lights was shot with an iPhone whilst Simonet was travelling in Japan at the end of 2022. These are pictures of large neon flowers, civic decorations erected in the streets of Sapporo and Hokkaido at Christmastime. The parallels and contrasts between the artifice of Simonet’s studio still-lives and the man-made decorations leads to questions around artificiality, mimesis and intention.
Images (top left to right:) Novembre Flowers #13, Novembre Flowers LAST #7, Novembre Flowers #2