It is a question that we’ll never fully finish with: what’s the relationship between art and life? Can art change life? Should life be lived as art? Is art separate from life? These are the questions raised by Philippe Durand’s Rust and Flowers (wall #1), 2010.
On view in the entrance foyer of the Hyde Park Art Center, Durand presents a realistic, life-size photograph of a neglected, overgrown city sidewalk, seamlessly adhered directly to the wall. The work does have illusionistic aspects to it; a shadow of a street sign combines with the spotlights shining on the work to make the viewer do a double take, turning around to verify no such physical sign exists, only shadow. But illusion is not the main subject of the work; frankly, if it were I would not be writing about it.
Rather Durand prompts us to ask ourselves what our relationship to art is. As we enter from the world into the art space, from the outside to the inside, Durand presents us with art realistically depicting the world, the outside presented on the inside. Durand makes nods to the autonomous space of art within a realist photo; the peeling paint on the wall could reference the abstractions of Aaron Siskind. Whatever we think art should do, Durand seems to suggest, we cannot escape the outside world. It’s a pitch-perfect complement to “Police and Thieves” even if it could not be more different in subject.
-Abraham Ritchie, Senior Editor for ArtSlant: Chicago
(All images: Philippe Durand, Rust & Flowers (wall #1), 2010, digital print, variable size. Image courtesy of the Hyde Park Art Center and the artist)