Georges Rousse

Georges Rousse is unmistakably a photographer : his photographs are intrinsic to revealing his images, and deciding the composition, cropping and lighting and clicking the shutter are all essential to his process. But he is simultaneously a painter, sculptor, and architect, carrying out the same relationship to his worksites as a painter to his canvas, or a sculptor to his clay or marble.

His raw material is Space: the space of deserted buildings. Taking his inspiration from a site’s architectonic quality and the light he finds there, he quickly chooses a « fragment » and creates a mise-en-scène, keeping in mind his ultimate goal, creating a photographic image. In these empty spaces, Georges Rousse constructs a kind of utopia that projects his vision of the world — his imaginary universe.

His creation both expresses his artistic intentions and resonates with his impressions of the site, its history and its culture. Finally, it results in a photograph, a flat plane, so the shapes he paints and draws, and the volumes and architectural constructions he creates in those massive spaces seem fractured or split on different levels. His photo masterfully brings together painting, architecture, and drawing. It carves out a new space in which the artist’s fictive world becomes visible.

At the heart of this questioning the definition of art, his work deals with our relationship to Space and Time.

In his photographs, Georges Rousse compels us to read architecture as static, images as immobile, then gradually transforms our perception of Space and Reality. The final photographic image perturbs our visual habits and convictions by presenting three kinds of space: the real space, where he makes his installations; an imaginary utopian space, which the artist invents and then carefully builds at his chosen site; and a new space that is visible from only one spot when he clicks the camera shutter, and exists only in the photo.

The convergence of these spaces goes beyond a visual game: Like a hall of mirrors, enigmatic and dizzying, it questions the role of photography as a faithful reproduction of reality; it probes the distances between perception and reality, between imaginary and concrete.

While they evoke the memory of a place and its poetic metamorphosis, his photographs also deal with mankind’s problematic relationship to time in industrialized society, and the traces he leaves behind on the environment. Forgotten, neglected, in ruins or slated for destruction, the sites selected for his installations act as a metaphor for Time as it hurtles toward death.

By transforming these sites into works of art, Georges Rousse offers them a new life, however fleeting. When he photographs them, he stops time, fixing an image in which traces of the past intermingle with his recent artistic actions, an image full of hope and energy, an image devoid of nostalgia. The history of these deserted places need not be illustrated explicitly by the artist; its presence exists in the image. As if traveling across time, it joins, in our gaze, that of its transformation.

A kind of new experience therefore occurs in the image, a spiritual dimension — a dimension more powerful than reality—that comes from appropriating, using and transforming a place before its destruction. This is the experience that comes from Georges Rousse’s work.

Georges Rousse, Arles, 1986 Watercolour on paper — 42 × 56 cm
Georges Rousse, Kobe, 1995 Courtesy of the artist & ADAGP
Georges Rousse, Lyon (Dragkar), 2001 Courtesy of the artist & ADAGP
Georges Rousse, Chambord, 2011 Courtesy of the artist & ADAGP
Georges Rousse, Blanc Mesnil, 2012 Pigment test — 50 × 62 cm (x 2/diptych) — edition of 30 Courtesy of the artist & Galerie Catherine Putman
Georges Rousse, Matsushima, 2013 épreuve pigmentaire — 110 × 130 cm Courtesy of the artist & Galerie Catherine Putman, Paris
Georges Rousse, Samaritaine, 2013 épreuve pigmentaire — 110 × 130 cm Courtesy of the artist & Galerie Catherine Putman, Paris
Georges Rousse, Santiago, 2013 Watercolor — 19 × 28 cm Courtesy of the artist & Galerie Catherine Putman, Paris
Georges Rousse, Las Vegas, 2016 Tirage jet d’encre pigmentaire — 140 × 112 cm
Georges Rousse, Kochi, 2018 Watercolor — 50 × 64,5 cm
Georges Rousse, Montrouge, 2018 Ink jet print — 115 × 146 cm

Georges Rousse


Painting, photography

French artist born in 1947 in Paris, France. 

Paris, France