Univers Fusalp

Exhibition “Graffiti rouge” by the photographer Jacques Pugin

Graffiti rouge, 1984

Snow-covered Matterhorn, pastures, forests, streams, flower fields and blue sky, the photographs of the Graffiti rouge series offer at first sight the picturesque landscape of a postcard made in Switzerland. But the look stops immediately on the red line that enhances each image, bright drawing or more elaborate drawing that questions our reading of the photograph.

Jacques Pugin’s work is related the landscape, but, beyond the documentary, it is a landscape reworked by the photographer who, in his most recent series, does not hesitate to use drones, digital postproduction and even Google Earth to develop its images and question our perception of the environment.

In 1984, Graffiti rouge was one of the first series of the photographer, born in 1954 and who settled in Geneva in 1978. From this year, with Graffiti grafted, Pugin was already exploring the trace of light, black and white, bringing us back to the very etymology of photography. With the technique of light painting, used since the end of the 19th century and popularized by the artistic avant-garde of the inter-war period, by photographers like Man Ray and Gjon Mili, we return to the primary capacity of the photograph to record light, in order to overcome reality-view.

For Graffiti rouge, Jacques Pugin decides to work in color films. Setting up his medium-format camera on a tripod, in the middle of nature, the photographer uses a feature of the Hasselblad that allows multiple exposures on film. The first exposure is a landscape, at day. He made of it a documentary vision, natural; in other terms a framing close to the human vision. This passive photograph simply fixes what is in front of the lens. The second exposure is spent at night – and we imagine nature waking up in a moment that belongs to it fully – at a time when the landscape disappears in the darkness. The photographer then intervenes and brings the light into the image, a red light sailing on the water or floating in the air that leaves more or less a random trace in the three dimensions of the landscape, over a long exposure. It is finally during the development that the work will reveal itself, through a random luminous trace that draws spontaneously on the photograph.

The surprising content of the image added itself the particularity of the draw. For this series, Jacques Pugin entrusted his negatives to the Fresson family, inventor in the nineteenth century of the pigment printing process of the same name in the. The complex and artisanal process of the Fresson draw, is similar to engraving and brings a vibration of pigments, a pictorial rendering and qualities of conservation that make these vintage prints works apart.

Photographs available for sale in Fusalp Marais store from 3rd April to 3rd September 2018.

Text : Florence Pillet, Esther Woerdehoff Gallery