What’s his work like, you ask? Think Alice travelling to Wonderland via Paris on the flying ship from the Stardust film. But before you take a step backwards thinking that Denègre has gone on a one-man surrealist crusade, take a look at his pieces and you’ll see that another way of describing his work is, quite simply, urban escapism.
Stills of Parisian architecture, predominantly the recognisable Haussmanian style, are mirror-reflected to create autonomous entities hovering over various topographies, with subtle asymmetrical elements to wake up your brain.
The concrete solidity of the city is whisked up and away, chopped up, forced to look in the mirror, and let float over familiar Parisian buildings, skyscapes and craterous surfaces. Denègre uproots his city and takes her on a personal dream-journey, presenting Paris in a futuristic and very cinematic tableau.
However, it’s not all flying buildings. Denègre also experiments with organic images to add a gothic element to his work. Black roots burst out of Paris’ seams, ravens perch on branches, and Tim Burton is probably on his way over now, cash in hand.
Looking at Denègre’s previous works, this collection feels as if he has found his feet… and jumped. These pieces from Mois de la Photo are a pleasant surprise, using new graphic techniques and a sense of fun that we don’t see in his previous pieces. “Parismaginaire” also made me think of Jean-Paul Rauzier’s work, his meticulous hyper-real photographs showing a similar fascination with cityscapes and imagination
But don’t stop there. The Galerie 89 has a second exhibition downstairs, showing artist Noh Kyung-hwa’s collection “A vibrant object”. Although it’s not part of the Mois de la Photo, it’s definitely worth a look, and you might bump into the artist having a cup of tea if you’re lucky.
“It takes a lot of time, but for me it’s important to think of the spectator and the space” Noh explains, having approached me while I was swaying from side to side in front of her work. I wasn’t having a dizzy spell, but to see all the different images in her digital artwork, you have to see the piece from every angle. Shapes appear and disappear with every movement, a pseudo-hologram of sorts, making the viewing an odd one to observe from an outsider’s perspective.
Noh uses lenticular printing, where numerous images are interlaced into one another creating a stereoscopic 3D effect… I was fascinated with the false depth and movement that it creates.
Despite the contemporary medium, there is an unavoidable sense of Asian tradition that Noh brings to her work. The bursts of colour, occasional delicate feather and swirling image of a girl dancer bring us back to her native Korea. Here we have modern, technologically-focused Asia nodding to her artistic origins via familiar motifs.
With so many exhibitions popping up over the next few days within Mois de la Photo festival, the menu is hard to choose from. A good idea might be to choose your expos by subject, or pick one of the parcours (routes) suggested on “OFF” festival section, where you follow prescribed paths around different galleries. But then again, you don’t want to miss out on hidden surprises.