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Gilbert Garcin, Le coeur de la cible. © Gilbert Garcin. iGilbert Garcin, Le coeur de la cible. © Gilbert Garcin.

gilbert garcin

Mister G life is surreal*

«We apparently grow up to a certain age and with us grow our toys. Depending on the drama whose only theatre is the spirit. Picasso, creator of tragic toys for adults, has grown man and, pretending sometimes to exasperate it, has put an end to his childish agitation»**

André Breton


Who is Mister G.? When you see him the first time you have the immediate impression of knowing him, even if you have never met him before. «Mister G.»... a name that smells of mystery but hides behind a largely anonymous appearance. A grey coat, grey hat, grey trousers, shoes that although are black, always seem grey. His hair is grey too. Actually no. It is white.

It is hard not to associate him with some Magritte characters, whose detachment from the world seems to have elected a jealous guardian. He is old you see this right away. The whole appearance is harmless and tinged with a subtle pleasantness, not sought-after that probably comes from the clumsiness partly due to his age. If you stop to scrutinize a bit in that disenchanted expression on the borderline of steadiness, you cannot help but feel a playful familiarity, albeit imbued with a sense of irony bordering on sarcasm.

And if you have the time to dedicate him, then you become aware that the more you observe him the more the interesting aspects emerge of this lively old man who rages in unlikely, if not downright dangerous, businesses and is so determined to openly address the vicissitudes of his condition to be human. Yes it is useless to deny it, this Mister G. the more you look at him, the more you like him.

Here he is struggling with that everyday life that suffocates you each day overwhelming you in its boring repetition. Now he is intent to pierce the sky with arrows falling he is more likely to hit himself in the centre of the target rather than the Celestial. Then he is grappling with the incommunicable mysteries of married life. Here he is lost, new Sisyphus plagued by repetition compulsion, in an improbable endeavour: to erase his own footprints walking in circles. Then again he promotes protagonist perplexed in the sight of his own image, questioned by the iconic obsessive repetition.

The world is a mirror for Mister G., a mirror that in the end always sends the same picture. A world in which, denounced the images, it is almost impossible to communicate. In short, to be honest this Mister G. defects he has as many as you can imagine and maybe even a few more. And yet... and yet in his figure there is something that prevents you from being mad at him...

Why does Mister G. result being nice, familiar, known even though he makes no effort to accomplish this? Basically what he does is nothing but highlight the inconsistencies and sometimes (often?) even human misery. Mister G. fixes his gaze on the incredible ability that so many human beings have to close themselves off within self-imposed limits. A skill that almost always resolves in complete inability to overcome those limitations, from the first moment in which the fences are erected. So who is Mister G.?

«What kind of question is that? – you say – Mister G. is none other than his own creator!».
Of course, it is that man who, after a lifetime of importing and selling tools to illuminate, he has found his games and in them maybe he acknowledged it by putting, as Breton would say, an end to his childish excitement. Mister G. is an avatar that moves in a fantasy world, inner and surreal that eventually may find its dimension in the real world by means offered by the image. «Heck, it is clear that it can be concluded that Mr. G. is Gilbert Garcin! ... No?».

No! Or at least not only him. Mister G. is you who are reading these lines. It is also I who is writing. Mister G. is each of us. This is why we tend to recognise him and why, perhaps, at the bottom we find him even likeable.

«What am I doing here, why am I studying that person for so long, of which persistent temptation am I the object? But he is a man, it seems, that makes this proposal to me! I do not refuse to follow him where he wants to take me. Only then I judge whether I was right to take it as a guide and if the adventure in which he dragged me was worthy of me». (***)

[ Sandro Iovine ]


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(*) - Mister G. photographs by Gilbert Garcin, on display at the Galleria del Cembalo, largo della Fontanella Borghese, 16 in Roma, from 16th April to the 18th June 2016, from Tuesday to Friday, 10,30 am - 1 pm (by appointment only) and 4 pm 7 pm; Saturday 10,30 am - 1 pm and e 4 pm - 7 pm; tel. +39 (0)6 83796619, www.galleriadelcembalo.it.
(**) - André Breton, Surrealism and painting, Abscondita, Milan, 2010, p. 20.
(***) - ibidem, p. 15.


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Gilbert GarcinGilbert Garcin - Born in 1929 in La Ciotat, near Marseilles. After graduating in Economics, he runs until the age of retirement an import company of chandeliers. When he reached the age of 65 he left the job to retire, he won a photography prize, which allowed him to attend a workshop on Arnaud Claas montage and sull'assemblage photographique, organised as part of the Rencontres Internationales in Arles. On that occasion Garcin came into contact with the photomontage, in which he explores the potential of transforming it into his form of privileged expression, a distinctive feature of his work.
In the eighties he began to build smaller scenarios for his images working with Pascal Dolémieux. He begins to photograph himself in ordinary clothes, as a lone figure, a bit shabby-looking and slightly absent, as if absorbed in thought. Thus was born Mister G., his alter ego, with which he scours with surreal juxtapositions the mysteries of human existence. Over the last fifteen years, Gilbert Garcin has published several books and participated in a large number of exhibitions driven by the desire to share with a wider audience his views on life and the world. His works have been exhibited all over the world and are represented in numerous collections, public and private, among which those of the Fonds National pour l'Art Contemporain, the Communal Fonds pour l'art Contemporain de Marseille, the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, dell'Artothèque de Veendam, dell'Artothèque de Nantes, dell'Artothèque de Vitre, the Médiathèque de Miramas, the Fondation Regards de Provence, the Galerie du Château d'Eau, and the West Collection in Philadelphia.

Gilbert Garcin