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Georges Rousse's installations are impossible and perplexing visual conundrums. Armed only with simple building materials and the laws of perspective, Rousse creates strange optical puzzles which defy the eye to work out what is going on. They tend to look as if a slice of one reality has been overlaid on another - as if two parallel dimensions had collided and become accidentally meshed together, before deciding to live with each other and co- exist in a curious formal and geometric equilibrium.
Rousse's juxtapositions can be startling. Some of his most effective pieces are the most simple: no more than a series of lines drawn on the walls and floors of a room, which line up to create a group of architectonic forms hovering in space. Only the subtle narrowing of an apparently vertical line betrays the fact that it is in fact running away from us - and that it is not, contrary to what the eye insists, merely drawn on the photograph. These pieces are holograms made with chalk. Like the Nazca lines in Peru, they seem to imply some kind of metaphysical window, through which for a second we have the opportunity to step.
Since Rousse's constructions rely absolutely on perspective to work, they're made to be viewed from a fixed point - in fact, from a fixed camera position. The final aim of his architectural sleights of hand is to produce a flat, photographic image in which the compression of depth and surface allows the illusion to operate at its strongest. So although much of his work involves building three-dimensional blocks and arches, curves and funnels, tunnels and edges, which must all be precisely shaped in order match up when seen from a particular point, Rousse is not a sculptor so much as a draughtsman. His business is drawing in 3-D.
Rousse uses two methods to collapse the real and the unreal. In one, he turns a real place into a drawing - covering the site in chalky cross-hatching, or outlining in white the edges of all objects and features - then framing it with a perspectival border. Thus a room with cupboards, a table, a sink, becomes no more real than a cartoon sketched out on black card. In the second method, he turns a drawing into real space, constructing perspectival architecture which, like a mirror, creates an illusionary pool of depth. Each method is an inversion of the other: in one Rousse sucks out space; in the other, he inserts it.
There is something grandiose about the formal qualities of Rousse's work. But there's also an engaging humility to it, which stems from the combination of the ambition of his effects with the simplicity of his materials: chalk, paint, wood. Recently, when constructing his installations in France, Rousse has begun collaborating with volunteers from local youth projects. He is happy to have their involvement; the subject of his art, which is essentially egalitarian, is the way we experience the world on a visceral level, and their experience is as valid as any.
SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS
Galerie Springer & Winckler, Berlin, 1999
Galerie Reckermann, Cologne, Germany, 1998
Galerie Durand-Dessert, Paris, 1998
Galerie Graff, Montreal, 1997
Museum of Contemporary Art, Barcelona, 1996
Galerie Mssokhan, Kobe, Japan, 1995
Galerie Bartschi, Geneva, Switzerland, 1995
Ludwig Museum, Coblence, 1994