Philippe Cognée


The Daniel Templon gallery is pleased to announce Philippe Cognée’s new exhibition, entitled Passages. The artist is fascinated by the multiplication of places of transit, and uses a dozen panoramic canvases to explore the most banal of places, those we pass through everyday: supermarkets, airport walkways, building lobbies and hotel corridors.

Now aged 52, Philippe Cognée is one of France’s foremost painters. He has been exploring the notion of observation, image and memory for nearly twenty years. His waxed canvasses, with their characteristic distorted effect, raise questions about the condition of contemporary humankind. They also reveal a contemplation about the notion of the subject, and the relationships between representation and abstraction.

Philippe Cognée used photographs taken on a mobile telephone as the departure point for this new work, which looks at movement and the act of roaming. Snatched and fragile images bear witness to the transience of city journeys, their low resolution giving the locations an abstract feel and strengthening the lighting contrasts.



Philippe Cognée continually reprocesses, strips and pares his images. He reworks images caught by telephone and projects them onto a screen, sometimes photographs them again, then projects them again before finally interpreting them with paint, heated up then crushed. The complex process of constructing the image allows the painter to transcend his subject. As Philippe Cognée explains, “what I do is to endanger the image, to the extent that it almost disappears into the flash. I want to push the light to its extreme through overexposure, so that only the very essence of the image is retained.”

The exhibition, which coincides with the publication of the first monograph devoted to his work by Editions Daniel Templon, serves to forge links between his previous series: urban views, supermarkets and hotel rooms. In his latest works, the representation of the place disappears behind the movement, and the light seems to explode behind the texture of an exceptionally dense painting.

The artist

Philippe Cognée was born in 1957 in Nantes, France, where he lives and works. His paintings use wax that is heated and crushed, producing a blurred effect and raising questions such as the thinning away of the image and the human condition in the light of humans’ relationship to their urban environment. The artist draws inspiration from photos and videos of elements such as motorways, buildings and aerial shots. His work questions the role of art in a society where new digital technologies have ushered in the era of the image, both omnipresent and diminished.

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