Philippe Cognée

October 31 > December 23, 2009
Paris - 30 rue Beaubourg

Selected works
Press release

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.


Philippe Cognée was born in 1957 in France’s Loire-Atlantique département but his childhood was spent in Benin; he currently lives and works in Nantes. A graduate of the Nantes Ecole des Beaux Arts, he was awarded the Rome Prize in 1982 and became a Villa Médicis prize winner in 1990. In 2004 he was nominated for the Marcel Duchamp Prize. He has taught at Paris’ Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts since 2005. In recent years his work has featured in a variety of private exhibitions, notably at the Angers Musée des Beaux Arts (2005), the Claudine and Jean-Marc Salomon Contemporary Art Foundation in Alex, Upper Savoy (2006) and the FRAC (Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain) in Upper Normandy (2007). His paintings are also included in a great many public collections, including at the Cartier Foundation, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Musée Ludwig and Fonds National d’Art Contemporain. In 2010 he plans to inaugurate a large-scale installation in the renovated Grand Commun building at the Palace of Versailles.

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