Exhibition catalogue, Mappes, Galerie Templon, Paris (France), 2005
Text by Dominique Païni (English and French)
Editions Galerie Templon, 2005
Soft cover, 23 x 29,5 cm
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French painter François Rouan presents at Galerie Daniel Templon a new body of works exploring the concept of “landscape painting”.
Titled “Mappes” - an old French word for “maps” which evokes ancient sea charts – Rouan’s recent series of large scale canvas was first inspired by the rocky Engiadina mountains in the Alps. The landscape they describe however, is only the starting point for a long mental journey through time and the geological depths. The scenery fades away to reveal a fragmented reality. The viewer’s gaze is no longer attracted by the sky or the panorama, but rather by an inner topography, abstract and multifaceted, where time substitutes itself to distance.
The paintings are made of translucent mylar sheets, which are painted, folded, cut, and layered onto canvas. Natural elements merge with reminiscence from the past. Walls, paths, skin imprints, memories of lost landscapes and details of past paintings appear and disappear. Rouan obliterates the present and the exact location of the site. The landscape is slowly dissected and reconstructed. François Rouan attempts to catch its fragmented meaning: the landscape’s slow transformation through agriculture and history, our mental perception of space as well as the artist’s own visual obsessions (Chinese painting, Matisse...).
As an echo to the paintings, François Rouan presents in the smaller space of the gallery, a new group of photographic works. In “Figure Paysage” (figure-landscape), translucent bodies lay on top of the “Mappes” paintings as they were being made. These unique prints were conceived during his residency at Le Fresnoy (National Center for Visual Arts), an innovative art center based near Tourcoing, which specializes in photo and video. For the first time, François Rouan used the old technique of “coal printing”. This technique creates ambiguous images : traces of skin seem to be floating above half finished paintings. Bodies turn into landscapes. Paintings become photographic imprints. Like the “Mappes” series, “Figure Paysage” is characteristic of François Rouan’s on-going interest in the passing of time, memory and the interweaving of meaning.