Introducing Matthieu Venot
Originally from Brest in France, Matthieu Venot photographs his home-town from a rather different angle: full of colour and geometric shapes that stand out from a deep blue sky. Focusing on the architectural detail, Matthieu Venot composes very graphic images, where the abstract predominates his representation of the urban landscape.
Through the lens of Matthieu Venot, the town of Brest, Brittany, takes on an air of Miami Beach, Ocean Drive: cloudless sky, facades of pastel colours and pure lines. A tight focus devoid of human presence adds to the uncertainty.
Having said that, the photographer is far from trying to create imaginary towns. Though he admits his preference for "not very pretty" cityscapes, Matthieu Venot only uses them to create pictures in which the subject (a facade, a roof, a balcony, a banister…) fades and disappears giving way to an array of flat coloured panels and graphic motifs: " It's photography, but it could be painting: I choose the frame, inside which I put shapes and colours, which more often than not, I find in bits and pieces of architecture."
In most of his series (Prism, Firework, Who Wants Sky) the blue of the sky serves as a background. Matthieu Venot prefers the midday light which brings out the colours of the ground or the buildings he cuts up and isolates.
Aside from a few key people (photographers Joseph Schulz, Ward Roberts, Mathias Heiderich,) Matthieu Venot claims his principal influence is that of French film maker Jacques Tati "for his incredibly elaborate shots" and his musical choice (Matthieu has long worked in the music world, particularly experimental electronic) for that "refined, thumping, husky feeling…."
Beyond the sunny sky aspect, Matthieu Venot's photography is capable of generating quite ambivalent emotions, and the impression of joie de vivre and optimism which is given off can even on occasions bring out a sort of melancholy, like in his last series 'Faded Glory'. Above all, his work is a reminder that the beauty one finds (or not) in our environment depends also on the perspective that we adopt to take it in.
About the artist:
Matthieu Venot, 36 year old self taught photographer, is part of that generation of artists who are well known thanks to social media. He arrived in Brest in 2008, left his job as sound engineer four years later to concentrate wholly on photography. His square format, graphic and colorful pictures, which offer an unexpected view of the urban environment in Brest, have rapidly created a keen interest amongst the fans of online art. The popularity of his instagram account (now around 75 000 followers) has attracted both French and International medias, which transmit his work and contribute to its diffusion. In 2014, his work was exhibited for the first time in Brest (Les Etablis studio) then, a few months later, in Paris, in 'Perspective Carrée,' an exhibition put together by lesphotographers.org. In Septembre 2015, along with 10 others he was invited to photograph the Elysées Palace (the residence of the French President) as part of #emptyelysee.