Gilles Berquet produces “images of the spirit and not reproductions of reality”. Turning to photography as an autodidact in 1981, as soon as he graduated from the Beaux-Arts, he never stopped “making” images rather than “taking pictures”. Feminine models, constrained, tied up and dramatized correspond to his desire of fiction. For a long time, between them and him, the sessions are in interiors, artisanal and demanding ceremonies, refined by the silver print. Perilous images like dreams divert the erotic conventions to sow a dull anguish, with surrealist humor.
Published by Loco editions, Le fétiche est une grammaire avoids the conventional monograph. No biobibliography freezes its trajectory, no text underlines the intentions and abruptly define periods or themes. Analogue and digital prints answer each other, fragments of the same story, in the center of which emerges a text by Michel Onfray, who had prefaced ihis book in 2000 and who perceives this whole as the cosmography of a universe, whose photographer captured the light and vibration.
Exploiting the imposing height of his Clamart studio ceiling, a photograph of 2008 evokes the apocalyptic Kiss Me Deadly by Robert Aldrich, his blinding light, behind the door. Surrounded by deep black, like a threat of ink, the fragile silhouette of a naked woman, standing on her heels, tense with curiosity, vibrates to the white light of a half-open wall hanging, a hole, a wound according to Berquet, curtain more torn than ajar, the shower curtain of Psychosis.
As fetishistic metamorphosis, in body bag or harnessed, adapting to improbable equilibrium, his female models recover the fatal beauty of Hollywood horror movies. Motionless in the forest, Mirka Lugosi’s eyes are wide-open, the mouth purple, Carroll Borland’s wax mask.
In the recent works, rid of accessories, barely constrained, the body of the woman remains mutant but faithful to stiletto heels that make her, in the words of Onfray, a “seamstress of beings”. A false minimalism perpetuates anxiety and secrecy. The model caught in the light of the torn curtain is a self-portrait of the artist at work, attracted by the unknown.
Christophe Bier (in his section of Mauvais Genres, every Saturday night on France Culture)
Christophe Bier is the author of Obsessions, The Dilettante, 2017.
The fetish is a grammar, a monograph by Gilles Berquet, with a text by Michel Onfray. Loco editions.
The exhibition is held until December 15th at the Arsenic Galerie, 14 rue Guénégaud 75006 Paris.