Vincent Lafrance Nature Immobile

Works in the exhibition

In his photo and video work, Vincent Lafrance contradicts the basic expectations we have for those media: his photography offers us access to the temporal dimension, and seems to explain, within the stillness of the image, exactly what came before, and what will inevitably follow; while in his video, we're confronted with what cannot be unscripted reality as it unfolds over time in front of a camera. No symbolist, Lafrance often bends and warps time as well as space relativistically, partially by the preplanned use of mise en scène subject matter, and partially by his intuitive mastery of when to press the button. He transforms everything into a form of still-life: a droplet of water; the explosion of fireworks; light itself.

Still-life was attractive to artists in previous centuries for two basic reasons: firstly, it didn’t move, giving the artist as much time as needed to explore the full range of formal possibilities. The availability of time brought the chance to stare and emphasize details, a luxury artists could not afford with most living sitters. And secondly, it was a flattering subject for its audience, when it became popular in the 17th century. Still-life edified through symbolism and justified the new urban and mercantile way of life for its nascent audience. The problem was how to make it grand, especially once the 19th century rolled around. Still-life by itself was considered inferior in the hierarchy of subjects to other genres like history painting. Always present and continually evolving, still-life is now confirmed as a major genre within art history.

In Lafrance's work still-life is no celebration of game, books or kitchen utensils, but a rigorous set of proofs that motion and change can be best understood, perhaps only truly glimpsed, from the perspective of stillness. Lafrance's insight and his ideas make still-life bigger than it seems, and reveal surprising truths. As in science, where the truly tiny can be stated to be just as significant as the unfathomably huge, so in the art of our time, where we cannot be certain of anything; idealistic, or even literal. The uncanny way we can sometimes fail to recognize something familiar is what this work provides us as an artistic experience. We can doubt and know at the same time; with the artist leading us from thing to thing in his illuminated, insightful and candid world.

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