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Homme au Cyprès

©François Lauginie

Homme au Cyprès, 1984

Philippe Cognée
  • Artist (1957)

Philippe Cognée, who was born in 1957 in Nantes, graduated from the Nantes School of Fine Arts in 1982, the year of his first exhibition. The works shown in it were clearly inspired by a primitive mythology. As part of the return to figuration in the 1980s, they dealt with subjects like people and animals, and used specific surfaces like canvas and Japanese paper (tissue). This is the case with the series of lithographs acquired by the FRAC Centre. From the monstrous thing it was at the outset, the “bestiary” of his early days, painted in acrylic, is humanized, and the figures, be they people or animals, have the same facies and the same look. The treatment of the paint and the line, at once rough and with a powerful plastic presence, contributes to this assimilation of species through the similarity of the “portraits”. Cognée would subsequently take as his subject scenes of present-day life, different forms of architecture, landscapes, supermarkets, and everyday items. His image-constructing technique is based on photographs and fragments of videos which he puts back together and projects onto a surface, before painting them with encaustic. A whole procedure involving blurring the surface ensues: the artist irons his canvases, spreads out the forms represented, and thus lends the image a mystery arising from a transfigured and totally deconstructed reality (exhibition Triades, 2003). Since 2006,  Philippe Cognée has been making use of satellite images broadcast on the Internet. A Villa Médicis prize-winner in Rome in 1990, Cognée was also short-listed for the Prix Marcel Duchamp in 2004.

Nadine Labedade