Trait pour trait, portraits — Thierry Grillet | Exhibition ULYSSE EN ARLES, July 2015

Le travail de Thierry Konarzewski est une quête obsessionnelle du visage. A travers des matières, des choses, des environnements. Art du portrait, paysage ou nature morte. Les genres se fondent dans ce regard singulier qui traque partout la figure humaine. Hommes, âmes, hymne à l’humanité. Le photographe chante la face. A travers ses trois incarnations : « visus », « os », ou « vultum ». Trois mots latins qui distinguent,  chacun, une partie de ce mystère, et tentent de faire parler les signes. Car le visage est « visus » (passif du verbe « voir ») – ce qui est vu. Car qui peut voir notre visage ? Sinon l’autre qui nous voit. Le visage est « os » (qui a donné « oral ») – bouche, lieu origine de la parole et du cri. Voyez, entendez ces cris et chuchotements qui habitent les parois. Le visage est « vultum », mine, air de la face humaine, petit théâtre des expressions, miroir des états d’âmes et des passions qui font rage sous la peau. Fût-elle de pierre.  

En Arles, et sur les murs, le photographe a ainsi capté tous ces signes de la présence. Dans une frontalité qui redouble la face. Il faudrait pour être complet, ajouter, comme en ouverture de cette procession, la « tête » qui les résume, et qui, dans cette pierre-crâne, tête de mort dans pierre antique, donne à l’ensemble sa profondeur de « vanité »… 

Texte d'introduction à l'exposition ENOSIM, Espace Fondation EDF — Thierry Grillet | Dicember 2014

Voici l’histoire d’un homme qui a trouvé son île. Un Robinson, maître des regards et du rivage. Voyez le. Il patrouille dans cet entre-deux qui n’a pas de nom, entre la mer et la terre, dans cette bande littorale où s’échouent les bidons emportés par les courants. Ces vestiges de plastic s’accrochent aux rochers, se coincent dans les anfractuosités, se laissent polir par la houle. Dérisoires sentinelles posées au hasard, ils mélancolisent. Et l’œil qui survole le sable n’a de cesse de fixer dans ces clichés, les matières fatiguées de ces âmes trop longtemps errantes. "Sunt Lacrimae rerum", écrivait Virgile. C’est le pleur de ces choses que le photographe vient recueillir, dans ce dialogue des solitudes. 

Thierry Grillet, writer | Paris, March 2013

Some people scour the shores in search of beautiful stones. Thierry Konarzewski patrols around his island close to Sardinia looking for unexpected encounters. As a shaman or an anthropologist he comes across throngs of improbably strange beings, shaped by the waves and winds. They are the containers’ people, an immense tribe wandering on the seas at the mercy of currents. After a long voyage like the one of the ancient Polynesians they have ended on an old rock – Enosim- where no one lived until the 17th century. This crowd of plastics mould by salt has settled there. Among this industrial society vomit rejected on the sand the photographer has seen the ocean small spirits. Is it a weakness common to those who have left the mainland? In his days Victor Hugo exiled on Guernsey Island had drawn them. He had given these gods of little nothings the name of “aucriniens”.

Those are the same small monsters (in the etymologic sense : things out of the usual course of nature), creased by currents, tossed by waves, wrapped in seaweeds, that Thierry Konarzewski watches today hidden behind a pebble or embedded in the hollow of a rock. They live peacefully in San Pietro, their eyes focused on infinity. The shaman photographer visits them on the course of his long lonely walks. They have turned into friends. “So you’re still here?” says he to one of these crushed skulled warriors expecting his visit at a creek nook. Between familiarity and ritual on goes the dialogue with these containers which are as many masks of warriors’ faces, out of the Iliad or the Mandingo Empire. These Ulysses, wrecked on the strand, worn out by their long journey back, seem to be meditating. Which sort of thoughts obsesses them? Who can tell what these hollow figures have learned from their improbable epic? It is the mind moves that the photographer as a shaman flushes out in his pictures.
So who is this photographer? A shaman, an anthropologist or the priest of a new cult of rejects in which he gives to see shapes, ghosts or fantasies? Or is he a detective of this new age materialism who as an herbalist gathers plants, picks up, classifies and names containers in a vast directory of nonsense? Neurophysiology progresses have confirmed the existence of two distinct parts in man’s brain. One is specialized into the recognition of words the other in the recognition of faces. This last one can summon real apparitions in front of those who have the power to see faces hidden inside things. Renaissance painters hid them into landscapes. Things –trees above all- were for some illustrators like Segantini or Rackham the unlimited home of many faces. With Thierry Konarzewski a new world of faces comes to light and they are a wonderfully expressive tribe.

Anyway, one is either free to believe in these apparitions or only in what one sees: the shimmer of material or the twinkling of things. But this double posture which inhabits Thierry Konarzewski’s pictures questions our relationship with pictures. What do we see? Are we actually seeing what we are looking at? Or are we seeing something else?