“I observe the fragments of a moment in quest of eternity”
Born in Paris, François L’Hotel studies at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs
of Paris, a course of studies which he describes as both academic and
subjective. The son of a garage owner, he will always maintain a keen
interest in « celestial mechanics » - his experiments will successfully
result in many inventions in the industrial field which he rejects by
distilling its objective approach.
In the meantime, he learns a vocabulary of his own by capillary action and redefines the codes of the image. By returning to the photographic surface he likes so much, he creates his pieces with intense sensitivity so as to trigger the introspection necessary for contemplating the abstract.
François L’Hotel’s photographs deny up to the presence of the image itself and endow the matter with an immaterial substancethat attracts the viewers and incites them to question the issue of detection, to read and interpret the image in a haste that allows the eye to evade control.
The pictorial dimension of his work stems from his training as a painter. François L’Hotel’s language is undeniably that of poetic emotion which he assigns to his photographic worlds by transfering the absolute purity of austere aesthetics to the image.
"… The comfort of time and the ever changing materiality of the visible.”
The first time I saw François l’Hotel’s artistic approach of photography, I was aroused by the pictorial strength of his work and my emotions dictated me a text I entitled Impalpable painting in François l’Hotel’s photos - “[…] Between the idea and the reality, between the motion and the act falls the shadow […] Between the conception and the creation […] falls the shadow.” (T.S. Eliot)
By focusing on the ephemeral, the perishable and at times, the instantaneous, François l’Hotel redefines our common images. Through his personal look, the rawest materials, the marks left by the wear of time, the lowliest elements change and turn into unrecognizable figurative references. The artist is keen on reshaping the aesthetics of the common figurations which go unnoticed in our everyday lives. In his art, the insignificant becomes a meaningful and autonomous narrative. François’s point of view negates up to the presence of the image and infuses the matter with immaterial substance. Entering the shapes and matter with his lens, he reveals their marks and creates a visible image within an abstracting synthesis. The unknown and often unseen details he immortalizes through his singular visual perception are major components of his work. Without manipulating his photos and by means of his lens alone, he gives shapes to images by injecting autonomy and a new substance into them.
Being a skilful creator of images, he magnetizes the spectators, confronts them with problematics of detection and makes them eager to read and decipher the image. The minimalist dimension of his artistic expression makes a detail, a little something, the focus of his work and this gives his representation a unique figurability and dynamism. His redefining the image somehow draws forward its quintessence: that is when the real imitates fiction while the intimate becomes estranged.
The specificity of François l’Hotel’s writing is undeniably the poetic feeling which he assigns to his photographic worlds by giving the image the absolute purity of austere aesthetics.
After systematically tracing the progress of his creations, I have become well immersed in his artwork and I now may point out that if you watch his artistic work carefully, you will notice that he adds an emotional function to the memory of inanimate matter. He does not present an imitation of nature in his work, but rather what exists in itself with its evolution through time and its own wear – as Felix Guattari wrote in Anti-Oedipus, “the real is not impossible, it is simply more and more artificial.”
In his wholly unique and authentic visual clichés, l’Hotel shows us “another” world, this unknown world we live by but never sense nor see. In his photographies’ worlds, everything is true and stems from a very distinct point of view, that of the artist. He manages to transform the trivial into art, to make fascinating images out of imperceptible details, thereby enticing us to discover his own narratives which are based of the comfort of time and the ever changing materiality of the visible. The way he represents the real, discerning “the truth” hidden behind the image itself, is what makes his artistic expression powerful, even if his emblematic representations may sometimes seem unreal or undecipherable. It is this strength which makes his artwork unique and makes it obvious that behind his esthetical approach and his unconventional iconographic narrative, his art is filled with philosophical concepts, “in the global human field, both in its existential and social dimensions,” as he tells us himself.
Louisa Karapidakis - art historian
It is worth noting that each of François l’Hotel’s photographies is numbered from 1 to 3 and is printed on fine art paper.