Jean François Dupuis’s visions come to him in dreams. He is passionate about producing art, and his images sing of mystery and colour, and celebrate creation and the human form. Dupuis takes us into another realm and leads us to question reality, as we know it. His images are “no longer a crisp representation.” They hint at the familiar but introduce a world beyond what we can normally see. The Sherbrooke, Quebec–based photographer embraces experimentation. He is also an abstract painter and melds photographs and paintings to create intangible and alluring dreamscapes.
“An intimate three-dimensional world of detail on the surface of the image belies what we are taught to experience within the two-dimensional language of the camera. A visual tension is born, as glimpses of a ‘photographic reality’ slip in and out of view, toying with what is known, perhaps reminiscent of a dream, a place of timelessness,” he says. The viewer is transported into a world of memory and colour. Particularly alluring are Dupuis’s multiple exposures and combined images. Symphonie Urbane explores the rush, noise, and movement of the city by looking at New York’s architecture, street scenes, neon signs, lights, and road and pedestrian traffic. Multiple exposures and slight movements of the camera repeat elements in the scenes to create movement in each frame.
Dupuis works digitally, but he shot the frames that make up Symphonie Urbane in-camera, on film. There is an echo of Harry Callahan’s “Detroit (1943)” in these images, but the exploration in-camera has extended to a significant body of multiple exposure work, rather than just one fantastic iconic frame. Part of Dupuis’s vision is to push the boundaries of what we recognize as photography. He wants to transport his audience out of its everyday reality. The tools at his disposal, whether they be in-camera experiments or the use of digital postprocessing, allow him to share what he sees in his mind. For this self-professed “colourholic,” the creative life is endless. His imagination has no boundaries thanks to his photographic knowledge and the new tools available to him.
Dupuis studied photography at Matane for three years. He graduated in 1993 and then moved to Montreal, where he worked as an assistant to Louis Cantin and Patrick Lessard. Dupuis now teaches photography in Sherbrooke, Quebec, where he does commercial work, while also maintaining his art practice, his first passion. Dupuis admits that he is more in love with photography now than he was when he started. He remembers being fascinated with his father’s camera, a magic image box he was not allowed to touch.
As well as being a photographer, Dupuis spends a great deal of time on abstract paintings, which he sometimes fuses with his photography, creating digital art.
Médium Mixtes is a collection of work that includes painting, fractal art, and digital art. The striking image of a woman is a prime example of everything Dupuis embraces and reiterates in this series. This work fuses pure white, red lips, red paint, and just a streak of rich yellow. In this and many of his images is the hint of the sensuality that Ralph Gibson also imbues in his work. The audience of this image observes the artist’s reverence, appreciation, and respect for the female form. Dupuis clothes the woman with colour. Dupuis also produces posters, reproductions of mixed-media pieces incorporating photographs and painting, that are much more commercial in nature than his fine-art work in Symphonie Urbane and Médium Mixtes.
“Imagine a world with no visual information. A world void of pictures, a world where communication is restricted to speech and the written word. Imagine this and the power — indeed miracle — of photography becomes apparent, a tiny fraction of a second captured, frozen and preserved for the enjoyment of many,” wrote Dupuis in his artist statement. “As a photographer I am privileged to have the opportunity to harness and share this power.”
We published Jean François Dupuis’ work in our 2010 PHOTO ART issue. If you're up for checking out more creative Canadian content - Get the RISK TAKERS edition in PRINT!