Yann Pocreau, Les surfaces de lumière — Bénédicte Ramade, The Life of Colours

[Winter 2019]

By Bénédicte Ramade

In one of his most recent series, Réponses à la peinture, Yann Pocreau establishes an interplay of brightly coloured superimpositions, transparencies, and opacities. Hot pink, mauve, navy blue, grey, burgundy, and black clash to offer the fourth “solution” in the series (Réponse à la peinture 04, 2017–18), like a mathematical equation the logic of which is hidden from the spectator. Moss green, turquoise, saffron yellow, grass green, and lime green intersect, neutralize each other, and appear in Réponse à la peinture 8 (2017). In this formalist interplay, a tribute to hard-edge, the series of digitalized photograms is immersed in the fundamental world of colour, primarily the prerogative of painting. Early in its history, photography had been deprived of colour, as it was not technically possible to fix or print that part of the light spectrum. And yet, pioneers of the medium were obsessed, from the beginning, with the ideal of completing their processes through the addition of colour. Pigments, filters, oxidation – the conquest of colour was slow and frustrating for photographers. It is a conquest that Pocreau takes on through geometric abstraction, in works in which he condenses the tension between colours, on the one hand, and black and white, on the other. As Nathalie Boulouch explains in Le ciel est bleu. Une histoire de la photographie couleur (2011), rather than surrendering to the nonrealism of monochrome black and white, photographers had attributed to it a deeper analytic value than colour, deemed boringly naturalist: “[Colour] portrayed the reality of the world, whereas black commented upon it.”1 As long as it could not be captured, the thinking went, one might as well shun it. No matter. Amateurs would take on the job, in projections, following the invention of the autochrome process by Louis Lumière in 1903.

Additive or subtractive syntheses – that is exactly what Pocreau deals in. In Croisements (2014), he uses no fewer than 720 slides, distributed among nine projectors, to compose – through superimposition, interference, saturation, and blackening – a rhythmic environment of colours, fleeting combinatory apparitions. The twenty-four colours that were used to calibrate each set of monochrome images, repeated three times per slide carrousel, came from a chart published by X-Rite, used extensively by Kodak, that Pocreau had exploited previously in Color Chart (2013–15)…
Translated by Käthe Roth

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Available here : Ciel variable 111 – THE SPACE OF COLOUR ]

1 Nathalie Boulouch, Le ciel est bleu. Une histoire de la photographie couleur, Paris, Éditions Textuel, 2011, p. 12.

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