Delphine Burtin – Fragments
4 december 2018 - 26 januari 2019
Gallery FIFTY ONE TOO welcomes back Swiss artist Delphine Burtin (°1974) for a new solo show,
featuring her two latest series Fragments and Longueur, largeur, hauteur (2018). Burtin, who trained
as a graphic designer and photographer, uses simple, everyday objects to create powerful sculptural
images that balance between fact and fiction, thus unveiling the limits and ambivalence of human
Fragments came into being during a residency at the Centre d’Art GwinZegal (Guingamp, Brittany).
During her wanderings along the Trieux river, Burtin photographed the surrounding nature and
collected plants. Back in the studio, she started manipulating the plants: she painted them white,
covered them up, folded leaves of grass, cut up flowers, perforated an oak leaf… She subsequently
photographed these volatile creations, preserving and magnifying them on print. Thanks to the play of
light and shadow, the liveliness and three-dimensionality of the objects is also preserved.
At the same time the plants have become discursive objects; artifacts that represent the ambiguous relationship
between man and nature. Instead of showing nature in its original form, Burtin isolates one element of
it and presents it to the viewer in an artificial, manipulated form. It is an illustration of how human kind
always tries to keep a certain level of control over its natural surroundings. The artist sharpens this
contrast by putting her lapidary creations next to outdoor images of a wild and abundant nature.
In series such as Sans condition initiale (2014-2015), we have seen Burtin using this kind of procédé
before: she appropriates everyday objects by combining them into alienating sculptures or “visual
accidents” that are far removed from their initial condition.
For the series Longueur, largeur, hauteur, Delphine Burtin, in stead of using digital, reproducible
photography, resorts to the cyanotype for the first time, creating unique works. She places optical
calcite stones on cyanotype paper in the sunlight. The forms and imperfections of the stones cast
their shadows on the paper, thus printing objects that have in fact never existed. The titles of these
blue pieces correspond to the dates and hours of exposure. In the artist’s own words: “I yield my
image-producing power to the crystal, to the sun and, a little bit, to chance.”
Delphine Burtin has experimented abundantly with the emptiness and deception of form in earlier
series as Polyèdres and Le point aveugle. For this new exhibition, the artist has successfully allowed
‘uncontrollable’ elements (space and time, chance, nature,…) into her practice. She loosens her grip,
setting the stage for a ‘hidden dimension’ to be conjured up in the eye of the beholder. Even more
than Fragments, the Longueur, largeur, hauteur series is a collection of cunningly developed trompe
l’oeils that remind us of the elusiveness and ambiguity of our reality.
Delphine Burtin lives and works in Lausanne (Switzerland). After studying graphic design, she worked
as a designer for several years. In 2013, she graduated as a photographer at the Vevey School of
Applied Arts. The previous year, her Disparition series was presented at Photoforum PasquArt
(Bienne) and Les Boutographies in Montpellier, amongst others. Encouble, her graduation series, met
with immediate and wide success: it was shortlisted for PhotoBook of the Year Paris Photo, won the
first Prize during the Selection exhibition at Photoforum PasquArt, and was the recipient of the Prix
HSBC 2014. The series has been shown in the US, Germany, France and Belgium (Gallery FIFTY
Opening: Saturday, Dec 1st 2018 from 2 to 6 pm, in the presence of the artist
Image: Delphine Burtin, courtesy Gallery fifty one