For nearly twenty years, Erwan Frotin has been engaged in photographic research on plant, mineral and animal forms, while successfully completing advertising and editorial commissions. After graduating from the ECAL in 2002, a school where he influenced several batches of students through his teaching, Frotin has made a name for himself on the international scene, particularly through his still lifes. The wild flowers he immortalizes in a palette of shimmering colours are reminiscent of the herbariums made a century earlier by the German photographer Karl Blossfeldt. With his photographs of plants on a neutral background, Frotin is indeed part of the legacy of the famous New Objectivity photographer made famous by the book Le Jardin merveilleux de la nature (1932). Developing a work that navigates between the real and the surreal, Frotin photographs a repertoire of strikingly beautiful plant, animal and mineral forms in the camera. In addition to his meticulously composed studio still lifes, the photographer continues to explore the natural world by travelling around the world to Japan, Hawaii, Chile, Costa Rica, and India. As an artist who has developed a singular photographic style, Frotin creates images in wild places, paradisiacal locations that seem timeless and without human presence. Over the years, the artist has built up a cabinet of curiosities with an almost encyclopaedic ambition. This interest in nature links him to the early 19th century American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, who saw it as a divine entity, and to the American Eliot Porter, a pioneer of colour photography, who fought to protect the environment by immortalising the beauty and diversity of the natural world. Frotin invites us to reconnect with the cosmos by allowing ourselves to be carried and transformed by these fragments from unknown territories. The universe poetically depicted by the artist offers an unconventional vision of nature and the beings that inhabit it. Because even when it comes to depicting humans, they are hybrids like plants. Through his work, the artist wishes to show the omnipresent fluidity of living beings.
Invited by the MBAL, Frotin brings his catalogue of forms into dialogue on the walls of the museum. Under his gaze, plants, animals, minerals, landscapes and humans are interconnected. Fascinated by the beauty of nature, Frotin creates photographs of a strange and supernatural world in constant metamorphosis. Rétrovision refers to the ability to look back to the past and the origins of Earth. Here the images, anchored in a protean reality, paradoxically evoke a sci-fi setting. The notion of place and time escapes us completely, inciting our imagination to let us embark on unexplored territories similar to those that inhabit the unconscious. There is an idea of the sacred in Frotin’s work. This flow of hypnotic images is a real invitation to meditation.
A book entitled FLUX 1, published by Note Note Editions, is released on the occasion of the exhibition.
Born in Toulon, Erwan Frotin (Switzerland/France, 1978) graduated as a photographer from the ECAL/École cantonale d’art de Lausanne in 2002, as well as studying biology and art history. That same year, he won the Grand Prix for photography at the Hyères Festival, which was quickly followed by his first commission for Vogue Paris. From then on, Frotin received commissions for Vogue Hommes International, Wallpaper, The New York Times Magazine, Another Magazine, Interview, System, and Dazed and Confused. He has also created campaigns for Asprey, Dior, Bergdorf Goodman, Louis Vuitton, Tsumori Chisato, Loewe and Apple. His work has won numerous awards and has been exhibited in Switzerland, France, Italy and the United States.