Text & Review


FLORES VENEREAE [Solo Exhibition - May-June 2017]

Artist Stament


This new body of work Flores Venereae builds upon a previous series titled Naked Garden in 2014.  Like the earlier series, these new works explore the theatrical magic and poetry of nature found in both urban and suburban areas.

In order to bring out the sculptural properties of the botanical life hidden in our cities, light becomes essential and the images have to be captured at night, between dusk and dawn.

It is, in this way possible to focus on the simple beauty of these beast-like botanies, on their fragility, their latent eroticism which becomes more seductive, more daunting and engaging.

As the central point of these projects was to capture what is around us, these photographs couldn't be staged and lit in the artificial comfort of a studio. Hence, the nature strips, the front gardens or any other public space or park became my playground. I walked the streets of some of the oldest parts of the city, following the changes of the seasons which would bring new ephemeral and concealed treasures waiting to be found.



PRETERNATURAL [Group Exhibition - August-September 2016]

Exhibition Essay by Dr Michael Vale


The secrets of the natural world are usually sensed rather than seen, often at the very beginning or very end of the day. In the deep of night this world continues out of human reach, breathing and rustling, with visibility only occasionally granted. The three artists presented in Franque’s new exhibition space each offer perceptions of this parallel world through different, masterfully handled media.

Fabrice Bigot’s dangerously beautiful photographs show us the mysterious world of plants and succulents, both enlarged and seductive and lit as though by silvery moonlight. Through Bigot’s lens we see what is often overlooked, visions of life on our planet that seem strange and enticing – in short, botanical poetry. These large-scale prints demonstrate photography at its most painterly, a medium that can transform its subject through drawing with light.

Natalie Ryan’s colourfully flocked animals remind us that we share this planet with creatures that inhabit a semi-magical world, with its own realities and rituals. These fauna seem on the verge of sudden movement, as though we, the viewers, have interrupted some secret mission or endeavour. Perhaps they are negotiating the human world they find themselves in, and are eyeing their surroundings from an unknowable interior. Like their living counterparts, they animate the spaces around them with possibility.

Adriane Strampp’s haunting paintings present ghosts in monochrome, lingering whispers of animals that have been here, perhaps moments ago, leaving only a trace behind. Strampp’s long and sensitive explorations into reduced palette painting have refined the tonal nuances of paint to extraordinary levels of subtlety. Her images seem to hover somewhere between the opening and the closing of the eyes, a netherworld made as much from memory as observation.

Exhibiting together for the first time, these three artists share a distilled appreciation of the natural world that offers endless possibilities of ambiguity and contemplation.



ALIVE AND UTTERLY STILL: Fabrice Bigot's new 'Untitled' series is intimate and intense.

Essay by Isabel Baker for the exhibition's online catalogue at Angela Tandori Fine Art [August 2016]


Fabrice Bigot’s unnamed new series picks up where his acclaimed Naked Garden left off. Like the latter, Untitled fixates on specimens of nature. However, where Naked Garden was big, smoky and colourless, this new series is richly coloured, compact and cleanly lit. But don’t expect any happy endings. Instead, Bigot once again uncovers the profound, yet unsettling from a bunch of flowers.

The florals of Untitled are still life - a state that fascinates Bigot. How is something both living and utterly still? These flowers, freshly plucked, brought into the studio and quickly snapped tentatively answer. Wait an hour, and their petals will droop, wait a day and they’ll yellow - yet preserved by the camera, they are cast into eternity.

In Naked Garden, Bigot considered the strangeness of beauty, in Untitled he thinks about its fragility. He offers us emblems of nature and beauty in a state that recalls decay and artifice. This acclaimed series, each image just an edition of three treats the flower like no other - as both beautiful and devastating.



THERE ARE TEARS AT THE HEART OF THINGS [Group Exhibition - June 2016]

Catalogue Essay by David O'Halloran


Fabrice Bigot’s new series Untitled continues from where his acclaimed Naked Garden series left off. When the Naked Garden series was shown at Walker Street Gallery in 2015, I described the black hue as ‘this boundless black [that] locates the imagery between abstraction and representation’. Bigot has shrouded his floral subjects in a thick veil of black in both of these series, yet the darkness in this new seriesthreatens something else. This is a different black; it represents not the dissolution of real into an attractive abstraction, but rather acts as a ghostly slow decay.

Colour is prominent within this series, yet these images should not be misinterpreted as more hopeful than the colourless Naked Garden. The fragile hope suggested by the glitter of colour in these new imagesis short lived; the rose and the chrysthanthemum will die, even with nurture and love.

These images are artificially lit in the studio space: without its natural support system the beauty of the flower will be fleeting, yet the camera casts it to cold perpetuity.

The tenebrous veil of black has become a zephyr closing in and overwhelming beauty and life.



INTERVIEW WITH ANGELA TANDORI about the series "Naked Garden" for the exhibition's online catalogue at Angela Tandori Fine Art [October 2015]


What is about suburbia/gardens at night that intrigues you?  Do you find suburbia eerie at night?
I am not really interested in suburbia actually.  The concept of suburbia is a very Australian thing and I am from Europe.  Instead, my fascination goes to large urban sites - Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, etc... I love the contrast between the extreme modernity and the unexpected presence of some life forms, like the plants for my Naked Garden series. They seem lost in a world of concrete, steel and rationalism.  And why at night? Because I love the simplicity of the light, the colours which turn to monochrome. I love its sense of minimalism, authenticity, and intimacy…


How do you want viewers to respond to your work?   
I’ve got no expectations when it comes to the viewers. I know that in any creative process, there are several stages: you dream of something, you take the image, you edit it in the darkroom and then, it’s time to show it to an audience. From then on, it doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to the viewers.  We have to accept that it is part of the magic of art.  In fact, I find it quite pleasant to rediscover my own work through the eyes and words of someone else.


You treat your botanical subject matter with sincere interest.  Do you have a wider interest in botany?  
My interest goes to what is called superstructures, which is found in nature’s ability to create complexity in shapes and beauty. Perhaps this explains why I love nature’s creations as much as extreme urban landscapes and the human body. All those express through an obvious complexity, something which is quite simple, primal, and to me intoxicating. I think that just calling it beauty would be too restrictive - what is the right word?


Have you always worked in photography?

No, I haven't actually.  I took my first photos at age 12, after my dad gave me his 35mm Pentax camera. By 13 I had my first darkroom. My dad who is an architect loves photography and my mum who was back then a journalist, loves words. This is perhaps why I decided to enter the cinema industry - combining my interest for images and words within a single medium. I need narratives to be part of each work I make.  Early on I became interested in experimental films and made several film and video works, using both analog and digital technology.  And I plan to make more. 




Review by Robert Nelson

The Age, Wednesday 13 May 2015

The Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday 14 May 2015


Looking at the photography of Fabrice Bigot, it seems uncanny that the word "stalk" is both a noun that means twiggy stem of a plant and also a verb, to follow someone with unhealthy voyeurism.

In his exhibition at Walker Street Gallery called Naked Garden, Bigot steals up on plants in his neighbourhood. He is on the prowl in the gloom of night, prying to monumentalise the almost indecent botanical growth of exotic specimens.

Bigot's photographs are dark but never dull. There are slinking wands and vascular leaves, primordial succulents of preposterous girth, tubby bodies of fibrous protuberance or carnivorous floral wisps that seem to be neither leaf nor wood but toothy flesh or hair that simultaneously beckons and repels, like some alien sexual organ that inspires horror and mistrust.

As well as a clandestine spirit, Bigot has a brilliant eye. He can spot the bulging fulsomeness of a plant from the thicket that it nestles in and pulls out the form with light from some inscrutable direction. Everything seems by stealth. He introduces the unwelcome lens in the hostile hollows of the garden as if a snake among spiders.

Bringing out the sculptural properties of his beast-like botanies, Bigot belongs to the tradition of Edward Weston who photographically monumentalised domestic vegetables in the 1930s.

Bigot adds a baroque flourish, a tenebrist air of vanitas. However, the force of the pictures derives from seeing the plants as a lurid kind of sculpture.

An awesome exhibition at the CCP examines the rich overlap of sculpture and photography.

Called Lit from the Top: Sculpture through Photography, the exhibition deals with the photographic image which has first been constructed as a sculpture.

Curated by Laura Lantieri and Sarah Wall, the exhibition is more cerebral than Bigot's and lacks the sensual morbidity of living tissue. Some of the work looks like a theorem. For example, Fleur van Dodewaard's 131 Variations is a conceptual matrix of wooden armatures that form an incomplete box, echoing Sol LeWitt's  Variations of incomplete open cubes from 1974.

Stein Rønning similarly constructs geometric units to make his photographs.

However, the conceptual masterpiece in the exhibition is by Stephanie Lagarde .  Lagarde's studies go beyond the intellectual quandary of making a flat picture from a walk-around object. They're bizarrely evocative and sensual.

Three mural-sized photographs are stuck to the wall low down, and lick onto the floor. They show large, stiff fabric slung over various unrelated supports, trestles and beams, also leaning on a wall in the image. The reason the arrangements are so compelling is that they immediately suggest a human presence, as if the drapery substitutes for a person.

With their demonstrative gesture of gravity, the draperies mimic the pose of the Pieta, that is, the Virgin in piety who cradles the dead Christ. Figured in many paintings, the image is best known through Michelangelo's repeated sculptures of the theme, where a heavy, limp form is supported by a smaller and weaker form, as the mother holds up her dead son.

Lagarde calls the works Stare. Though she would know the rude English meaning of the word, the French artist was instead thinking of the Latin verb to stand (stare) from which we also get our word "rest", literally standing back. It's also the derivation of the French word to remain (rester).

In her image, the horses and struts literally stand back and rest on the wall in a way that metaphorically suggests the final rest of Jesus in the lamentation. It's a beautiful poetic vignette of what remains: first, with Jesus' death and second, the pictorial tradition that celebrates it.

The name of the show refers to deadpan or shadowless lighting. It's even true of Andrew Hazewinkel's fragmentary portraits of a cast of Donatello's volumetric Niccolo da Uzzano which are lit without drama. The light of choice for contemporary sculpture is general to match the platonic objects. What would happen if it had Bigot's theatrical magic?




Artist statement

The tradition in still-life was to depict nature in an almost unreal context with exaggerated lighting effects and extreme colour saturation.Why? Because the beauty of nature belongs in its colourful extravagance; transcending what we consider as the banal. From the glorious time of the Renaissance, nature embodies more than ever the world's generosity, the overwhelming beauty. Among the favourite subject of still life painting were plants, flower and all things that would never move until the artist had completed the artwork. An example of this is that animals are usually depicted dead, and the flowers in a vase.
With the invention of photography, capturing nature’s beauty seemed even more relevant and the accuracy of this new medium appeared to be a gift of God on the mission to capture every aspect of the beauty of His creation in an even more realistic way than any painting before.
The challenge of reproducing each colour, each tone, each shade was then still almost impossible to overcome, but that was not the only one. In early still-life photography, like the subjects of still life paintings before it had to stand still to give enough time to these primitive cameras to capture their subject.

Despite all the issues and technical dead ends, which ended with the discovery of new technologies allowing to photograph almost everything, and in colour, it is the black and white photograph that is arguably ultimate reference in terms of modern photography. This is despite contemporary times, when photography is over staged, over saturated, and used to document colourful performances,
Black and white photography offers a sense of capturing the essential, away from the easy distraction of bright and highly saturated colours arguably reaching the core of the subject.But what about nature whose the beauty seemed to be related to its colour range and it's endless array of shades and nuances ? What's left if we decide to depict plants, and especially flowers without the use of colour? What can a black and white photograph capture from something which appears to be all made of colours?The altered vision of a black and white world retains and preserves what contributes to the definition of an object as well as the definition of beauty: shapes, lines, volume, and light.
To capture nature in the most simple and genuine way, the choice of black and white was obvious but another aspect was also unavoidable: to capture what's is around us, what is part of our surroundings, the landscape of our daily life, these photographs couldn't be staged and lit in the artificial comfort of a studio, using a camera and a tripod. It had to be done the same way as we capture life on the streets of a city. And this is where I found all the plants, trees and flowers that I photographed for this body of work: the street of a large city, at night - when all colours turn grey and then black when what is alive and what is not is less clear.
Therefore, I spent more than a year walking the streets of big cities around the world, as well as in Australia where it all begun. The challenge to take photographs at night, with neither additional lights or flash, nor tripod became part of the process. The nature strips, the front gardens or any other public space lit only by the city lights was my playground.
After stripping these "night flowers" of what usually makes them attractive, I felt like they were then standing naked in front of me - revealing their hidden beauty, their fragility, their latent erotism, and unexpectedly becoming more seductive, more daunting and engaging.



NAKED GARDEN [Solo Exhibition - June 2015]

Catalogue Essay by David O'Halloran
Night is purer than day; it is better for thinking and loving and dreaming. At night everything is more intense, more true. The echo of words that have been spoken during the day takes on a new and deeper meaning. The tragedy of man is that he doesn't know how to distinguish between day and night. He says things at night that should only be said by day.” Eliezer Wiesel


Why the Naked Garden? The photographs by Fabrice Bigot may be ‘stripped’ back to black and white without the colours of the spectrum, yet the works seem fully laden with meaning and powerful.

The photographs have the sensual meaning that living plants provide given the viewer’s propensity to anthropomorphise. The open flower and the stamens have an unmistakable similarity to the sex organs of the human body.

Traditionally, flowers were one of the most common subjects for artwork. Here Fabrice Bigot sets his subjects in a universe apart, their poses are classical, reduced to a series of essential forms and surrounded by a veil of black. Their compositions are simple but mask a complex evocative dynamic. This dark veil of boundless black locates the imagery between abstraction and representation.

Fabrice Bigot interprets the title “Naked Garden” as stripping away the extraneous information - like colour - to reveal the essentials of the image, to reveal that we too, as humans are a part of this natural, fragile universe, that we too metaphorically - dance without clothes in this naked garden.

For Fabrice Bigot it is important that the photos have been taken without the aid of extra light sources unlike the famous floral photographs that Robert Mapplethorpe made in the early 1980s where studio lighting was essential. These images by Bigot are ‘found images’ in the sense that the flowers have been encountered, stumbled upon by the artist, they have not been sought out nor arranged. This aspect of the found or encountered image – the notion of street photography is important for the artist. It is as if these plants are aberrant life forms in a world of concrete, steel and rationalism - aberrant crepuscular life.

What is at issue in these works is also a notion of beauty. Perhaps it is more a matter of the sublime, than beauty. The great philosopher, Hegel distinguishes between the "remarkable differences" of the Beautiful and the Sublime, noting that beauty is connected with the form of the object, having ‘boundaries’, while the sublime "is to be found in a formless object", represented by a "boundlessness".

In this artwork, we have the results of the latest digital photographic technology employed in order to produce images redolent of photography from the past – the black and white photograph. Italian contemporary thinker Mario Costa, argues the concept of the sublime should be examined in relation to the epochal novelty of digital technologies. For him, the new technologies are creating conditions for a new kind of sublime: the "technological sublime". The traditional categories of aesthetics (beauty, meaning, expression, feeling) are being replaced by the notion of the sublime, which after being "natural" in the 18th century, and "metropolitan-industrial" in the modern era, has now become technological.

In terms of philosophy though, perhaps we should be considering the ideas of the wilful Schopenhauer when discussing these artworks. Schopenhauer thought that simply seeing a benign object could produce the pleasurable feeling of beauty. On the other hand he thought of the feeling of the sublime as the pleasure in seeing, an overpowering or vast malignant object of great magnitude that could destroy the observer. For Schopenhauer, human desire was futile, illogical, directionless, and, by extension, so was all human action in the world.

This work reminds us of our temporal existence – our perpetual melancholic ennui. Does the blackness - the ambiguous evasive space and distance in Bigot’s photographs suggest the human condition is constitutionally melancholic? After all, our only future is death.



IMITATION OF LIFE [Solo Video Exhibition - 2011]

Catalogue essay by Edward Colless


Imitation of life: even without knowing the source of this exquisitely painful phrase, used as the title by Fabrice Bigot and Jane Burton for their latest video installation, you can’t help but hear its resonant, mordant pessimism. Originally the name of a pot-boiler novel from the early 1930s, it was quickly adapted to film in 1934 for Universal studios. But the celebrated version, which eclipses the earlier one, is Douglas Sirk’s 1959 masterly, sumptuous melodrama in which Lana Turner plays a widowed and ruthlessly ambitious Broadway actress sacrificing her relationship with her teenage daughter for stage success and luxury.

On its own, this plot-line would have made a conventional moral tale; but the story is slyly undercut to cynical pitch by a counterpoint narrative of the actress’s also widowed and impoverished black house-keeper, whose daughter—light-skinned, presumably due to white paternity —cruelly and racially rejects her mother, intending to “pass” as white. It all ends badly.

Of course, we don’t need this plot synopsis to get into Bigot and Burton’s video; but nonetheless we are led into it through the title’s associative suggestions. Theirs evidently isn’t a commentary on Sirk’s movie—and has no obligation to be so—even if there are numerous ghostly glimpses of that movie which loom and fade (intentionally or not) throughout their video like hypnagogic visitations. In fact, there are many movies that flicker across Bigot and Burton’s screen with the similar effect of vagrant memories or, alternately, as spirits being conjured by a morbid poetry: from Hitchcock’s The Birds to Alex Proyas’s The Crow, from Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon to Hideo Nakata’s Ringu, from Carl Dreyer’s Vampyr to Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Les diaboliques. But these are phantasms more than references. This is a haunted screen, possessed by these movies instead of quoting from them. Its sullen, brooding atmosphere is trance-like and mediumistic; and its protagonist is a dead soul, abandoned but unable to leave the scene of whatever crime of passion—committed by or against her—has directed her there. Is she lingering in purgatory? Is she kept as bait for some predatory lover? Or, is she anticipating a visit from her own prey, and readying the spider’s web? Is this femme fatale killing time or is she killed by it? If there is a trap here (whether as a siren’s lure or as an inhuman prison) then it may be not just depicted in the desolate and seemingly derelict house that the figure and her shadowy bird companions move through, but in the gallery itself.

Almost anachronistically, Bigot and Burton allude to the shadow and flicker and maculae of analogue cinema projection, as if it’s a projection from another time—or, better, from the non-time that ghosts must endure, as if it’s the medium that entombs and captivates ghosts. Enter the gallery and you see the moving image of an empty room as blotchy in its depiction as in its decayed décor. Nothing ever happens here: this is true, eternal, oblivion. But the movie is actually what happens on the other side of this screen, its obverse or underside. And you must cross a threshold to see it animated, that’s to say, in order to see it come to life. What kind of life, then, is it that “comes to”, that happens, only on the other side? This “imitation of life” is not an illusion of life or a half-life, not a dreary or diminished life. It is an after-life. Not the domain of zombies or the “living dead” but of the “undead”: unresurrected, unfinished, unjudged, unrequited; and it doesn’t end badly, for it’s the story of those whose passions have no limit or end.

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