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An interior logic

An interior logic
Michel Baudson
For more than thirty years Philippe De Gobert has followed a demanding profession in the field
of plastic, visual and spatial arts: he photographs works of art, whether they are part of the history
of art or more specifically part of the avant-garde movement or better still contemporary.
However, and it is this that matters to us, parallel to this profession, which has allowed him to
constantly enlarge his artistic knowledge, he follows his own original artistic path in which he
questions how we look at a work of art and its genesis.
In fact since the beginning of the 70s he has given us works that are not the direct result of his
own self-questioning regard but, quite the opposite, they suggest a series of glances from a supposedly
anonymous spectator. Whilst these glances are selective they appear deceptively simple
and operate on their own terms, recalling C. Lévi-Strauss’s words in The Savage Mind, like “an
instantly intelligible universe”. Today his miniature objects, his scale models, his photographic
works all form a narrative as personal as it is poetic. This narrative reveals the rigour of his interior
logic where the different phases of his artistic evolution are linked. To that end the result of
his formal photographic research –in other words his whole body of work in the field of the plastic
arts– reflects his many excursions into the world of art history which have provided constant
stimulation and called out to him, particularly these latter years, from the places where “the
artist” (a title to be understood in its widest sense) experiences his own creative quest.
Philippe De Gobert works in his childhood home with a technical camera that he sometimes lays
aside to take up his woodworking tools and paint and create his objects and scale models. These
will then give birth to his photographs which radiate a strange tranquility. But he is not an armchair
traveller. It is his internal eye that travels through the layers of his accumulated knowledge
and interests to give place and form to his quest. Thus it usually is for artists who prefer to continue
questioning the world rather than reacting to its immediate expectations. That is why the
semantic and referential amplification of his artistic offerings not only stirs up astonishment in
the viewer faced with his works but further leads to questions about the meaning of what is really
being shown rather than being satisfied with what is seemingly illustrated.
“What is really important, he once commented when talking about his work, is the nature of
dreams and the imagination. If art is merely to bear witness to daily life, what is the point?”
Philippe De Gobert creates his “bricolage” in order to transfer his world of dreams and imagination
to the viewer or collector as evidenced in his early works such as his “Artists’ gardens” in
1974, his fences and his “Shop fronts”, then his “Artists’ rooms”, which series he finished in 1985
with his “Suite of five studios”. Whether it is a question of his earlier works, a view of the urban
landscape or artists’ rooms, or his current models of studios, which are settings in which he can
create his photographic enlargements, or his most recent views of semi-rural semi-urban landscapes,
or amongst other examples the series of interlinking works dedicated to Saerendam in
1989, the words of Ludwig Wittgenstein quoted by the artist “Where others pass by, I stop”makes sense.
Philippe De Gobert not only saves himself but equally all of us who view his work from taking things at face value and helps us realise the essence of his and therefore our vision.