After the James Webb telescope sending us stunning images of the stars in a hitherto unseen definition, Baptiste Rabichon goes back and forth between his light drawing table and the absolute darkness of his photo lab; he brings back his own visions of the Cosmos, his new series, Vues d’artiste.
Named in homage to the illustrations of objects, beings or phenomena for which no photographic representation is available and which often accompany popular scientific articles, Vues d’artiste is a walk through a fantasised universe, populated by stars and unusual landscapes. A walk resulting from a strange alchemy, between the gesture of drawing and the photographic process.
On small sheets of tracing paper, Baptiste Rabichon draws spheres, dots, spots… These transparent sketches are then placed on photosensitive paper in total darkness before the enlarger is switched on… Fiat lux. And the light, passing through the tracing paper, creates night. An authentic photographic blackness that engulfs the drawing, transforming each sphere, point, spot into as many planets, stars and galaxies. Through the meeting of drawing and photograms, these small universes are born, which Baptiste Rabichon creates as much as he watches them appear, constantly reminding himself that image is the anagram of magic.
In contrast to the fiction of the Vues d’artiste, the works in the SPECIMENS series, which Baptiste Rabichon constructed as a continuation of his vast 20th century project (one of which closes the exhibition as a farewell to this work), are the result of a real, precise and meticulous recording of samples of coloured matter. So there is nothing imaginary in SPECIMENS, except in what we think we are observing; micro-organisms, cells, algae, viruses?
Thousands of floating corpuscles, captured by who knows what high-precision microscope… The blurred areas, which can be seen here and there, suggest that these large prints are the result of a complex analogical process, between imprint and optical projection; the artist follows the photographic gestures in order to scrutinize these surprising polychrome specimens, these samples of primitive soup… And to bring back to us these majestic colour prints.
Infinitely large/infinitely small, microscope/telescope… behind these obvious op-positions, with which he has maliciously studded his new exhibition, Baptiste Rabichon plays with what he sees and would like to see, what he imagines and what he finds, what he has at hand and what he does with it. Twisting and turning from dream to sign, from tale to proof, he delivers a new body of subtle works, between vision and observation.