Jacques Oulé is a french born artist living and working in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
"COMMA" is composed of two series named: Unmoved and Rouge.
"Standing between two worlds, where the past joins the present, it is impossible not to feel dislocated, unmoored from the familiar ties of our daily lives. In the intimate silence of this moment, the desire to seek and to give comfort is an expression of our common connection. Once memory has been unearthed, it passes into us and informs our hearts. Sorrow accompanies regret; disbelief and incomprehension anchor themselves to knowledge. And through darkness we discover illumination."
-Bernice Eisentein, author of I Was a child of Holocaust Survivors
NHEM EIN, Cambodia (1958), Unidentified Prisonner 1975-1979 Provenance: S21, Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
COMMA at the Mc Master Museum of Art in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Autoplasmic Exhibition 2011, curated by Michael Davidson.
Globe and Mail Review:
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Apr. 15, 2011
"If, like me, you came of age in the transition period between paper-based and digital documentation, between physical records and binary-code-based information streams, you'll have a certain fondness for libraries and archives…"[more]
Gerhard Richter (German b. 1932) Mirror painting (Blood red 736/6) 1991.
Katsura Funakoshi (Japanese b, 1951) Moon on the Northernmost, 1995
IN PERPETUITY October 10 2005 (Aix En Provence)
Installation dimensions: 8'30 x 22.5 / 2.50m x 6.85m
Individual dimensions: 15" x 20"
IN PERPETUITY October 22 2005 (Paris)
View of the West and East wall of the installation.
30 Chromogenic Prints 24" x 50" / 1.27m x 0.61m
Edition of 5
Man has marked surfaces from time immemorial. Throughout history, the adornment of all kinds of materials with patterns, shapes and figures has depicted deities, commemorated rulers, enhanced the accoutrements of ritual, or decorated authoritative texts. Sanctioned by rulers such artistic statements have typically outlived their makers. Comprised of the highest quality materials, they have not only proved durable, but have also created a cultural imbalance by limiting representation to the highest levels of past societies. These objects impress us. Standing before them, we become cognizant of their beauty, magnitude and skilled workmanship, but not necessarily the nuances associated with their style, conceptual aims, or original purpose. Experienced out of context and through the filter that is the contemporary mindset, these artefacts nevertheless communicate their authority, albeit unintentionally revealing the desires of being significant and influencing future generations
In A perpétuitée Jacques Oulé directs our attention to contemporary mark making practices linked to the ideas of commemoration, ritual and devotion. His focus deviates from the traditions practised by society’s upper echelons both in subject and form. In contrast to the contrived machinations of the elite, his photographs take us directly to the streets of Paris and Aix-en-Provence. Here he has documented graffiti. The series of images taken in Paris shows the cumulative build up of incisions on the trunk of birch trees, the other details the spray painted doors of Aix-en-Provence (the artist’s home town). Functioning as both the focus and bridge to the two series is an oval medallion, the same type of medallion found on gravestones. It depicts a sculpture of a hand marking a stone surface.
The medallion evokes a host of impressions. This ritual, which typically features a portrait of the deceased, elevates the individual into a state of grace that promotes his or her veneration. Its intention - to carve out a place in the memory - engenders ongoing contemplation. Enshrined within this oval, the decoration underscores the fact that we are not so much dealing with the subject represented, but an abstracted representation of the person. Oulé’s medallion memorialises an act instead of a person. Consecrated by virtue of its isolation within gold and white borders, this representation of mark making presents a visual contradiction. On one hand the hand inscribing the oldest and one of the most durable materials known to man signifies the will to live beyond the limits and defy the effects of time, on the other the context of the image suggests that the technique has met its end. The world has evolved. What once served to ensure longevity and bestow importance have itself become a victim and the subject of commemoration.
Though the scribe remains anonymous, the hand bears an obvious youthfulness. It holds the stylus with an assuredness that connotes a combination of skill and talent. We sense deliberate concentration and anticipate the production of ornate lettering or a delicate image. Juxtaposing this genteel vision, Oulé’s photographs of scarred bark and vandalized property turns our focus to the intense emotions and impulsive behaviour of contemporary youth. He takes us from a virtually macroscopic one-on-one relationship and drops us into the buzz of the street. Here, clustered on tree trunks and door fronts, we meet anonymous contributions exhibiting varying degrees of legibility. Crowded together, they coalesce into a blur of text and pictographic elements that overrides original surfaces and creates anarchic patterns. The ensuing visual rhythms induce multiple interpretations.
Produced at the spur of the moment, at a time when the feeling (or opportunity) presented itself, these marks represent the antithesis of beauty. Raw, amateurish, inartistic, frequently ambiguous, they flip between identifiable text/image and forms of encryption. As a means of communication, they inspire curiosity and outrage. Compared to print and electronic media, they suffer physical constraints. The adornment of these surfaces, for example, recalls tattoos and other ritual disfigurements of the skin. Not only do the markings permanently alter the surfaces of these objects, they also change our perceptions of them. Some see them as a defilement of public and private property that negatively changes the urban environment. Others view them as a celebration that immortalizes an idea, feeling or event. They exist as a phenomenon which spans cultural, social and political spheres.
The work raises questions regarding both the users and use of public space. Within this evolving forum not only do we witness the transgression of prevailing conventions, but also the conventionalization of particular transgressions. So what do Oulé’s images show us? Like much great art, this exceptional work subverts our assumptions and lets us see what we might otherwise have missed. On one hand they give us what we expect from graffiti. Expressing romance and the disenchantment of youth, they speak for those who might otherwise not be heard. But we also evidence humour, note the repetition of particular symbols, lose ourselves in the undulations of pattern, experience confusion and witness its visual expression. Seemingly uncomplicated terms suddenly attain multivocality. The word ‘LOVE’ appears over and over again. Where it has been notched into birch bark, it pertains to romance. But in the context of the doors, are we to take it as a command? Must we acknowledge its absence? As the eyes become accustomed to the hoards of marks, we sense the aura of unspoken agreements regarding acceptable outlets of communication, where and how to mark and what constitutes appropriate subject matter. What was first interpreted as a series of lawless acts, suddenly becomes codified. Seen from this point of view, the trees and doors acquire the hallmarks of a bulletin board.
His aversion for graphic spectacle, never denigrates the subject matter. It, in fact, reinforces it, gives it power. Forget about Banksky’s magnified punk aesthetics. Disregard Katharina Grosse’s irreverent spray gun antics. Oulé’s work operates on an intimate level. It piques our curiosity, lets us become totally absorbed in its bromidic comments. We not only experience the marks with our eyes, but also through our bodies. The images convey a degree of tactility and, in the case of the birch trees, we can physically relate to their scale. Oulé reveals his sensitivity to the marks’ characteristics by choosing to shoot them in black and white, a factualising technique enhancing the marks’ cumulative effects. This permits us to savour the rich arrays of textures and brings out the ways in which the marks relate to each other and their immediate environment.
A perpétuitée functions as an impromptu journal of the street, a bipartite non-chronological compendium organized in terms of context and place. Eliciting social and psychological significance, it also holds architectural and environmental implications. In a sense Oulé’s project commemorates the act of memorialisation. It speaks of an intuitive and virtually universal need: to express what one feels needs to be expressed. The photographs suggest this is not only a democratic, but also a relatively sanguine phenomenon.
This exhibition of Jacques Oulé’s photo-based work consists of three remarkable pieces, each of them a visual paradox, dislocating the viewer from the frame of the subject, and by doing so, establishing a universal singularity of perception. These works ask us to consider who and what we are. Are we simply a repository of open sensory stimuli, accumulating these sensations in a database called memory? How do we arrive at a structure of identity, and what is our actual relationship to the world around us? And what of emotion? In Oulé’s playful yet profound images we are taken to this place of the unknown, a place alive, where we are able to look into a mirror and if paying total attention, may for a moment see ourselves as we really are……
infinite, immutable, miraculous……
. A response to “Solvitur Ambulando”
In The Theatre of Time (Sold Out)
We must reconcile to our condition.
It would be good to face the music.
This rock immemorial is floating in space.
Venerable theatre will make its presentation.
The curtain will open on this tragic comedy.
What would we say to the duration of this play?
A ‘one-act’ but what an act!
This rock immemorial knows no ovation.
Frozen or fleeting, that is the question.
Hurrah these fragments of lonely expression
It’s nothingness, if not invention.
One should sit at the ground of truth.
All performances are temporary
and yet the seats will be filled.
This rock immemorial defies intervention.
What lies in wait? What lies behind?
And what of beyond the stars
That behold the miraculous
Every night this season
To quiet reflection and optical refraction?
If you’re around for awhile you’re lucky.
We could meet back stage with flowers
And roll away an hour.
This rock immemorial
Of what intention?
Michael Davidson 2013
Solvitur Ambulando. 132 x 198cm
Once again for the first time. 55 x 76 cm
Givers. 43 x 61 cm
Installation at "26"
A response to “Givers”
The Dance of the Other and The Illusion of Self
Paradoxically the field exists because it has been erased.
Paradoxically we have been erased apart from the field.
Paradoxically colour and light float on the black stage of night.
And yet…..we do not.
Paradoxically this image adds up to no image and is complete.