Chicago I

Philippe Cognée

Date : 2005

Medium : Painting

Size : 250 X 150 cm

Wax paint on canvas.

Philippe Cognée’s recent work was inspired by live satellite images broadcast on the Internet. His soaring views of New York, Los Angeles or Chicago, as shown here, depict mazelike urban landscapes, verging on abstraction, in which the notions of scale and perspective have been eradicated.

The guide

Cloudy vision?
No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. But you can't quite make it out.
What can you see, from a distance?
At first all you can see is a cold, grey palette livened up by the red in the lower part of the work. The eye is drawn towards it. Then the urban architecture made up of a dense network of buildings begins to appear. It is an aerial view, as if the artist was trying to crush the tall buildings below. Then you notice that the shape of these invincible buildings is echoed in the tall rectangular shape of the canvas and the white mass in the foreground.

The artist, Philppe Cognée, has come up with an extraordinary technique. How does he achieve it?
He generally paints a realistic image based on a photograph by mixing pigments with encaustic (wax), and then places the canvas on the ground. This is when the magic begins. He covers the paint with a film of transparent plastic and melts the wax by ironing the canvas. This is when the artist's creative work begins. The picture’s blurred aspect is completely controlled by the artist.

Take a closer look. Notice the effects of the material, the ruggedness and the blending of the colours. The subject slowly disappears, and the paint itself becomes the subject of the work.
The first figurative painting gives way to a second abstract one.