25/03 - 31/05/20

Fr | NL


© Guilyan Pépin, series “Beth-el”, 2019

Guilyan Pépin is a young photographer from the Province of Belgian Luxembourg, who came to notice in the last “Propositions d’artistes” competition. He studied photography at the HELB - Ilya Prigogine college in Brussels, where he gained his Diploma in 2019. For his graduation show, he explored an unusually thoughtful and experimental field: how the status of objects is questioned as they are translated into images or sculptures. Are they documents or works of art? Are they banal or sacred? Are they documentary evidence or artistic recreation? Starting with our timeless fascination with stone and minerals, and our propensity to create around us all sorts of myths, symbols, legends and beliefs, Pépin asked himself questions about how they are used to transmit knowledge from one generation to the next; and also about their intrinsic beauty, and the understanding - as much magic as scientific - that this knowledge conveys.

He takes inspiration from many other areas: archaeology; installation art; a study of context;
a fascination for materials; the cataloguing process and an exhaustive approach to art. His images redraw moving and enigmatic contours, with minimal means and a lack of pretention, but rich in interpretations and possible re-readings. Is it an aesthetic or scientific object? Is it functional or useless? Is it infinitely interesting or despairingly flat? After a detailed observation of a pebble,
will we experience some sort of visual hallucination or will we believe in an other-worldly presence or existence? Nothing is certain from what there is to see or to understand: there is no answer from this young photographer, nor instructions for use, nor certainty. There is just his strange, pretty and intuitive way of making links between the different parts of the question and rewriting the rules.

Thus, even more than that of Francis Ponge, who plumbed the depths of his contemplation of a pebble, the distant influence of Marcel Duchamp can be suitably felt too. If it is artists’ intentions and expressions that make works of art, it is truly the active gaze of viewers that construct and deconstruct them, that exalts them or condemns them to obscurity. Pépin deliberately places his work on the unstable border between an archival framework, plastic beauty and a conceptual substratum. Once again, the mythology and ancient dreams of alchemy are not far away, for the alchemists also challenged established values and broke rules, blurring the difference between near and far and the states of matter, to extract reality, lead or gold, images of nothingness and a unique beauty from dreams, the trivial and the shapeless.

Emmanuel d’Autreppe, Exhibition curator.

Translation: Chris Bourne.

Guilyan Pépin’s portfolio received a Jury Commendation at the “Propositions d’artistes” competition
in 2019.