Opening Reception: Éric Antoine: Useful Lies
Thursday September 5, 2019
5:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Come to the opening reception for an exhibition of recent work by the French artist Éric Antoine.

Antoine works in series, repeatedly photographing the same subjects while experimenting with light, reflection, and composition. As part of his near–obsessive approach, he typically first creates drawings that allow him to closely consider different nuances and possibilities before making the actual photograph. These quiet and at times somber — but always sublime — images are reservoirs of feeling and symbolism that are usually set in and around his home, located in the forest of northeastern France. He is uninterested, he explains, in finding and documenting the exotic, the strange, or the new. His art is instead an intimate and highly personal project, one that is impossible to separate from his life.

Known as wet–plate collodion, Antoine’s photographic process is slow and complicated, and contributes to the already time–consuming nature of his practice. Although he makes prints as well, many of his final works are ambrotypes, which are underexposed glass negatives that appear as positives when the light is stopped by a black background. These are one–of–a–kind objects poised at the cusp of image and sculpture. They also carry with them a long history, having been invented over 150 years ago, shortly after the birth of the photographic medium. Antoine’s work consequently has a unique patina that heightens the mood he sets in motion through his artistic choices, from lens to framing to subject matter. In addition to their silvery quality, which catches the light as you tilt the plate, the ambrotypes exhibit vignetting, bokeh and blurring, drip marks, circumscribed areas of unreadability, and dramatic contrasts between light and dark.

The exhibition takes its title from the series of the same name. Useful Lies is notable, Antoine explains, as it is his first wholly optimistic body of work. This optimism is symbolized by a large, almost luminescent white ball, which he situates at the edge of a rocky ledge, on the bank of a rushing stream, under a vaulted canopy of trees, and in a quiet corner of his home, among other places. Some of the most optimistic people, Antoine imagines, live lives that are fraught with agony and hardship, and yet somehow they find this hopefulness that helps them keep going. Often such perseverance can only be achieved by way of what he calls “useful lies,” which we tell ourselves so as to save ourselves. The ball is this useful lie — this optimism that we carry around in the face of pain.

Éric Antoine was born in 1974, in Audincourt, France. Before devoting himself to his art, Antoine worked as a journalist for a number of years. His photographs have been exhibited extensively in France and across Europe. This will be his first exhibition at the Dolby Chadwick Gallery and in the United States.

Photo: ©Éric Antoine

Dolby Chadwick Gallery
210 Post St, Suite 205, San Francisco [map]