Dolby Chadwick Gallery opens an exhibition of works by Éric Antoine
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Dolby Chadwick Gallery opens an exhibition of works by Éric Antoine
Child III, 2021 | Ambrotype | 9.25 x 11.5 inches.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- Dolby Chadwick Gallery announced an exhibition of recent work by the French artist Éric Antoine, on view this March. Antoine has earned acclaim for his quiet, deeply contemplative images, which tap into a shared human pathos while also evoking an atmosphere of wonder and anticipation.

Antoine works in series, creating careful studies of a singular object, tableau, or setting, from achingly emotive trees to “drowning” flowers to graceful arrangements of the human body. He repeats his process to a near-obsessive degree in order to capture the essence of each subject in all its nuance and complexity. “I try to see less,” Antoine explains, “so that I can see more,” alluding to his intense focus, attraction to repetition, and rejection of today’s insatiable appetite for “the next thing.” His home in the forest of northeastern France and its surroundings form the core of his work, in turn facilitating his immersive and time-intensive approach. His art and his practice are, in a word, his life.

To create his works, Antoine utilizes a traditional photographic process known as wet-plate collodion, which was developed in the mid-nineteenth century shortly after photography first emerged. These stunning glass plates evade the distinction between image and sculpture and play with processes of perception, their silvery quality and aged patina catching the light at different angles and heightening the effects of the vignetting, bokeh, and occasional drip marks.

Among the series exhibited are breath-taking images of woodlands. In these, light filters through tree canopies, dappling the forest floor and illuminating rushing streams, the movement of which has been stilled by the long exposure time of Antoine’s camera, creating the look of frosted glass. While time-consuming to make, these and other images are timeless in their effect. Each of Antoine’s works are intensely symbolic, with every object or entity carefully chosen to evoke something that is at once deeply personal and also universally applicable and open to interpretation.

Trees continue to be a source of inspiration for the artist, who creates portraits of them as if they were people. By blurring the background and any extraneous visual noise, he is able to focus on each tree’s unique features and story, highlighting their strikingly anthropomorphic qualities in the process. In Arbre VI, for example, the tree has sustained a wound at its base so large, we can see all the way to its sapwood—its living core. In another image, one tree appears to grow out of second, and in yet another, a tree has grown around a metal bar running through it horizontally, effecting an almost impish grin. Antoine explains that these scars and aberrations endure not as afflictions but as exercises in coexistence and cohabitation.

Even Ghosts Get Lost, the namesake series of the exhibition, continues to mine these themes of coexistence. In these works, the forest transforms into an interior space for contemplation. A shadowy figure, symbolizing the “ghosts” we carry with us wherever we go—be they memories, emotions, or something more undefinable—is hidden within each; and yet this figure is not a sinister presence but rather the embodied form of those personal and sometimes buried histories that shape who we are. What’s more, the images themselves have an almost fairy-tale-like aesthetic about them, kindling within us an awareness of our power to author our own stories. Should we want, we could very easily tell these figures to “get lost.”

Works from other, ongoing series are also on view, including Les Cerveaux, which presents stacks of papers situated on desks, often secured by an object such as a small black ball, rocks, or even disembodied hands. Collected over the years and culled from family members, among others, these papers represent a matrix of memories that together form a complex and interlinked historical record. Also on exhibition is La Synthese, an image Antoine typically creates at the end of the year that features objects, places, and models that have appeared across his main bodies of work—a souvenir of meaning, feeling, and time.

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

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