RTR gallery 42 rue Volta 75003 Paris
Oleg DOU “Another Face” & sound creation by Julien Beau
When it comes to digital photography in recent years, designated as “the age of doubt” by Andre Rouillé, Oleg Dou has been the spokesman of the spectacular. In his work, truth is as tangible as it is elusive. Is this a photo or is it a digital collage? Is this a visualisation of the artist’s expression or the aesthetic value of the project in and of itself? “Photographers do not consider me as one of them, but contemporary artists hate me just as much, since for them I am not conceptual enough.” Disregarding this ambiguity, Dou’s aim is to manipulate. Each of his portraits, while shouting realism, defeats the rational by deformation of organs, swelling of skin etc. Human nature, embodied in the face and especially in the eyes, it is in distress that is not conveyed by emotion. The images are clearly augemented by technological skill, that is evident to the naked eye but that does not reassure the viewer about the underlying suggestions as to the realities of torture. In his latest body of work comprising a series of eight images, aptly entitled ‘Another Face’, Dou asks, whether a mask is or can become our other self – “Me”. Taking his work further in this series, Dou records on faces, for the first time, deliberate, unvarnished, digital unvarnished violence — or so it seems. Ultimately we can elicit the truth, which the artist seems to attach as a rider to his prima facie message. Tortured faces with hairless, dead skin, suddenly become a normality by trapping our minds with subtle additions – pencil red pattern wallpaper – trap our minds and shelter it from the stark and ultimately unbearable reality that is faced by the models. The use of face as a metonym for self and as an expression of the effect on self. Inevitably one recalls Dou’s Russian cultural predecessor’s from Dostoyevsky, Eisenstein, or even Chekhov, known for denouncing and pinpointing the most poignant truths with forcefulness, which is uncommon for the Western sensibility. A demonstration of implacable fate and straight inscribed in our human condition, imposed by a rough aesthetic, where the style is apparently – overshadowed. In this new exhibition, RTR Gallery is continuing its mind map evolution, positioning Dou’s work within the framework of conceptual exploration of ‘Scenery’ (staged), located at the intersection of notions of truth and light, as a counterpoint to transparency. Rather than irony, this body of work, despite the focus of faces of Dou’s models, is a dramatisation or our conscious and sub-conscious anxieties of life as embedded in the very flesh of the faces.