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M. Garcin small theatre (吉爾伯特.加爾辛的小型劇院)
Gerard HENRY
at 3:20pm on 13th April 2012

1.-3. Gilbert Garcin. Courtesy of Galerie Les filles du Calvaire, Paris.


(原文以法文撰寫,中文翻譯請往下看。This article was originally written in French and is a review of Gilbert Garcin’s works. Please scroll down to read the Chinese translation.)

“Humour is a wonderful mask and Gilbert Garcin wears it well. From one photo to the next, Garcin playfully assumes an air of mockery and detachment. But what truly continues to draw the viewer’s gaze to these images is that behind this mask, there is a man calling out to us. A man whom we resemble, even when shot from behind, a man who is in a hurry to live, and who insists on playing a game that is beyond him, without fully knowing the rules.” - Yves Gerbal

Mister Garcin aka Mister G, as his gallery owner, Christine Olier, calls him, is a leading man who celebrated his 80th birthday in 2009 with a major retrospective of eighty photographs. Born in 1927, when he reached the retirement age of 65, he suddenly decided to lead another life. He transformed himself from an older gentleman into a leading man. From his earliest exhibitions, he has been stunning the art world. This atypical character portrays himself in various situations at the edge of reality and playfully reveals his imagination through black and white photograph montages. These montages race after time through endless labyrinths, illustrating the absurdity of the human condition and tinged with a wryly philosophic humour. Art critic, Armelle Canitrot, has produced a striking account of him, which we reproduce below.

«In seventy years one has gathered ten thousand souvenirs, one has a sort of attic in one’s head,. Piled-up things which end up by suddenly re-emerging”, explains the photographer Gilbert Garcin who seems to have decided to profit fully from his retirement by tidying his own attic. With the face of a tranquil father, a respectfully unadorned cranium, a discreet tie over a striped shirt, dark grey gabardine, dark trousers and black slippers, this former owner of a lamp factory has the air of a perfect septuagenarian free from all care.

Debris saved from his son’s mecano set, bits of string and small building blocks, armed with glue, scissors and his camera, he constructs miniscule models, for which he uses artificial lighting “to make more real”, and photographs in this way, day after day, the different acts of his small indoor theatre. Playing with his auto-portraits and cloning without complex his figure of “man-of-all-the-world”, he proceeds to place himself in the most surreal situations. Take for example Sisyphus pushing his enormous boulder or a pitiable man behind a pendulum “Running after time”, “The egoist” playing leapfrog with himself, until he is lost to view, or “The peacock” displaying tail feathers which depict his own effigy.

“We are all more or less on show, is it not?”, comments with a malicious tone the charming gentleman who lightly manipulates the absurd and the auto-derision, with a naïve zest, a distinct taste for surrealism and a Hitchcock-like sense of his own presentation. “I take notes, I accumulate, I leave it to stew a bit, then I decide which paintings I will realise”, he comments while simultaneously removing from his pockets stuffed with small pieces of paper, the notes of his future compositions. He will spend two or three days arranging the decor of each small scene. “There should not be too big a gap between what I imagine and the definitive image. But now that I have more experience, I make fewer mistakes”. The bug of disassociation, often linked to the art of photography, infected this Marseillais of origin during a period in Arles in the 80s, while working with the photographer Pascal Dolémieux, himself a master illusionist, who initiated him in the secret charms of microscopic landscapes constructed with two nails, three matches and some cubes of sugar.

Ever since, this distant cousin of Tati, this spiritual son of Magritte, has created with humour and a touch of disquietude common in works featuring parody, not hesitating at mocking himself, and all of us at the same time. “’Do not turn around in circles’, ‘Know your limits’, ‘Be master of yourself’, profiting from maxims such as these, Gilbert Garcin elaborates pedantically, not only a sort of fictitious autobiography, but also a whole philosophy of the human comedy”. Without forgetting his latest idea: to propose to other photographers to place their own effigies in all the most inaccessible corners of the world. A way of being everywhere at once, including in the work of others!

「幽默是個出色的面具,吉爾伯特.加爾辛(Gilbert Garcin)利用起來也得心應手。從一張張照片中,加爾辛輕佻地流露出嘲弄和超脫的意味。但是不斷吸引觀眾眼球的正是這張面具的背後,有一個人正呼喚著我們。一個縱使只看到背影但卻和我們如此相似的人;一個疲於奔命的人;一個執著於挑戰自我的人,即時有時甚至還沒有完全瞭解遊戲的規則。」-Yves Gerbal

加爾辛先生,亦是畫廊老闆 Christine Olier 口中的G先生,是個領袖人物。加爾辛2009年慶祝80歲生日,舉行了一場盛大的八十幅攝影作品回顧展。他生於1927年,在65歲年屆榮休之年時,突然決意要換一種生活。於是從一位年邁的紳士轉變成為一個領袖式人物。其最早期的展覽已經讓藝術界刮目相看。這位不合規則之人在現實邊緣的不同情境中描繪自我,並通過剪輯黑白攝影幽默地展露自己的想像力。這些剪輯畫面追逐時間進入無盡頭的迷宮,表現人類境況的荒謬,夾雜著揶揄的哲學幽默氣息。藝術評論家Armelle Canitrot 對他讚不絕口,下文將引述其評價:

「七十年間,他收集了上萬件紀念品;在他頭頂有個閣樓,堆積的東西會突然冒出來」,這正好解 釋了攝影家吉爾伯特.加爾辛貌似為了充分利用退休時光,決定整理閣樓的舉動。一張平凡父親的臉,頭上毫無裝飾,十分謙恭,條紋恤衫上一絲不苟地打著領帶,深灰色長袍,深色褲子和黑色拖鞋,這位曾擁有過一間燈廠的人,將典型七十餘歲老人無所顧慮的神態演繹得淋漓盡致。

用兒子的Mecano 玩具留存下的碎片,幾條線和一些小積木,加上膠水、剪刀和攝像機,他開始築起了微型模型;他用人工照明使其「更真實」,用這種方式拍照,日復一日地在他的室內小劇院裡上演著不同劇目。除了擺弄著自己的肖像,用並不複雜的方式複制自己的「世界之王」塑像,他繼而將自己投放在最超現實的情景中。例如,西西弗斯 推動著巨大圓石或鐘擺「追趕時間」後面的可憐人,「自我主義者」與自己玩蛙跳遊戲直至消失在視線裡,或者是「孔雀」展示尾羽的自畫像。

從此之後,這位賈克.大地(Tati)的遠房表親、Magritte 的精神之子,以幽默和在戲仿中常見的焦慮不安中進行創作,毫不保留地嘲諷自己和世人。吉爾伯特.加爾辛從「不要兜圈子」、「瞭解自己的極限」、「做自己的主人」這些格言中,學究式地不僅闡述了虛構自傳,也包括整個人類戲劇的哲學。他沒有遺忘自己的終極理想:向其他攝影師提議將他們自己的肖像放在世界最不可及之處。以一種突破所有時空界限的方式,包括存在於他人的作品之中!

Exhibition: Playgrounds - Contemporary French Photography
Date: 6.4. – 2.5.2012
Venue: Avenue of Stars, Tsimshatsui

A version of this article appeared in Paroles, No. 232, April 2012.




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