Camera in hand, Brigitte Olivier paces up and down a patch of ground on the edge of the Atlantic coast. This stretch of coastline is part of an area regularly photographed by the artist in an attempt to provide new interpretations of a geography in retreat. She uncovers the stumps of pines cut down by human hand. Such “traces of a vanishing subject” are at the heart of her series Disparition (Disappearance).
For the artist, “this almost abstract, moving and violent figure re-emerges from the visible in the exact concentric repetition of the cuts of the axe, before dispersing into the void. It defines its essence and designs its shape without ever being identical to another. In a sense, this systematic approach constitutes a portrait. Portraits of trees, like readings of the soul or autopsies seeking signs between life and death. Decontextualised but located deep within the silence of the image, the pines are grouped together in series, condemned to exist anew in plastic representation.” At the boundary of painting, Brigitte Olivier’s accumulated images are visually fascinating, their texture evocative of Jean Fautrier’s “impasto” works.
Born in 1954 and a graduate of the École des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux, Brigitte Olivier lives and works in Romainville. From her father, an oyster farmer in the Arcachon Basin, she has inherited a sensitivity to Nature and its elements. The lands she places at the heart of her work are submitted to physical and sensory experimentation. The artist spends time in them, wandering in search of a memory – the memory of humankind’s impact on its environment. The series that Brigitte Olivier presents us with are therefore as much portraits as they are itineraries. And although humankind may seem absent from her photographs, its portrait nonetheless emerges, an implicit and subtle sketch.