Born in 1974, Éric Antoine is a self-taught French photographer. Emerging from adolescence, he discovers his passion and puts all of his energy into exploring the opportunities offered by film photography. He sets off to meet the world, people and urban landscapes through numerous travels.
Fifteen years and thousands of magazine pages later, Éric Antoine’s life takes a tragic turn. In 2010, he opts for the tranquility of the countryside, far from the chaos of the city. He slows down significantly and focuses on life and nature in their purest forms.
During 5 years, he exclusively photographs his immediate environment, within his home. This period of voluntary confinement is the genesis for his book Ensemble Seul published end of 2015, when he decides to isolate himself further still by moving to the mountains.
Éric Antoine devotes himself to ancient photographic techniques and to his artistic work, which, having initially become more bucolic, is now increasingly abstract. Far from any retrograde intent / regressive ambitions, he wants to take the time, with patience and discipline, to push for technical and aesthetic excellence in his photography, in a contemporary manner.
For the last 15 years, Éric Antoine has focused his work on the ancient collodion (wet plate) process. Each step is managed by the artist, from preparing the chemicals to the final framing, navigating the multiple constraints imposed by this whimsical / capricious technique. It all comes down to a peculiar alchemy, and the use of primitive photographic optics reinforces the sense of absence and tranquility in his photographs. These images of rare finesse, on glass, fragile results of a laborious process, firmly counter the contemporary “digital deluge”denounced by Éric Antoine.
His exhibitions highlight recurring themes: the flight of time, the artistic and existential quest for simplicity. He photographs obsessively and in series, firstly with his still life works where he showcases daily objects elevated to jewel-like status. Then the circle amongst other symbols takes hold within his work. Objects or actors are staged in films of a single image. The light of his forests appear on images repeated throughout the seasons. Rather than pursuing ever-changing faraway landscapes, he photographs only a few places and bears witness to their evolution and to the passing of time. “I don’t change subjects, it’s the subjects that change.”
In his “Cerveaux” series, layers of piled paper and documents tell the stories of known or imaginary lives. Recently the “La Forme” series depicts this sphere which appeared in previous series – it was discrete and sombre, then in “Useful Lies” it is a white sphere representing optimism and hope. In “La Forme”, this circular image is all that is left of a methodology or subject, the model no longer appears to make way for the essence of photography / the photograph, light and optics.
The question of the materiality / physicality of the image remains at the heart of the artist’s research. Far from any nostalgia, the wet plate collodion process is here an emancipating practice. With a quasi-sculptural approach, he delivers true object-photographs, shimmering and silver.
In 2021 he releases Useful Lies, second in a series of 5 books.
Éric Antoine exhibits his works in galeries and museums in France, Europe and in the USA.