With a resolutely saturated and pop photographic aesthetic, Louise Mutrel’s work combines popular and vernacular icons from here and elsewhere. Her photographic approach claims the image in its contemporary use. She evacuates any notion of materiality attributed a priori. No more prints, mats or frames. The artist postulates a free image, always in movement and whose nomadism allows it to exist in the abyssal flow of social networks or in various forms such as the printed flags adorning the gallery at La Villette or today on the façade of the Frac Bretagne.
However, if she knows how to free herself from the classic codes of the photographic medium, Louise Mutrel chooses not to entrust everything to digital technology, preferring an analog, mechanical and profoundly plastic approach to the manipulation of the visual through the risographic process. A popular offset photocopying method that originated in Japan in the 1950s and was widely used throughout the world until the 2000s, risography gives images a screened texture and an immediately identifiable acidic colour palette. While one might see in the use of this printing technique a touch of nostalgia and a pronounced taste for a certain “vintage” look, the artist’s approach is, on the contrary, perfectly consistent with a practice situated in our time. Risography acts as a filter, but when many of her contemporaries willingly indulge in intensive “photoshop”, Louise Mutrel takes hold of the material to brillantly play with colours and printing.
Presented in large format, her images act as giant bumper stickers that corrupt the black façade of the very minimal Frac Bretagne. This impenetrable glass wall is illuminated by her photographs to become a “wall” in the digital sense of the word on which the images scroll, unfold and construct a visual and rhythmic adventure. The supposed neutrality of the building becomes a field of possibilities, a paradoxically blank page that comes alive with the aesthetic peregrinations of the young photographer.
Louise Mutrel invites us on an “exploded road trip”, she says. It is made of trucks, alpine landscapes, rocks, a car park (whose pylons delightfully echo the granite alignments of Aurelie Nemours) but also more abstract forms in a poetic and dreamlike collage on the scale of the building. She says little about her subjects. They are offered to our gaze and it is now up to us to imagine their history. All she tells us is that her framing is inspired by Japanese ukiyo-e prints, “images of the floating world” in French.
Born in 1992, Louise Mutrel works in Arles and Paris. She graduated from both the Haute École d’Art du Rhin in Strasbourg and the École Nationale Supérieure de Photographie d’Arles. In 2017, in Japan, she collaborated with local artisans by experimenting with Washi, a precious traditional Japanese paper. Since 2020, she has been building a plastic and photographic journey with rizography printing. Her work has been presented notably at La Villette, Paris in 2021, at the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie d’Arles in 2019 or at the Institut Français de Tokyo in 2018.
Images : View of the exhibition Vent Violet by Louise Mutrel, presented on the façade of the Frac Bretagne, Rennes, from October 8th 2021 to January 2nd 2022. Photo credit : Aurélien Mole