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Raphaëlle Peria

Fluo Bleaching

October 3 - December 19, 2020

On the occasion of LE PARI(S) : the art week

2-6pm Exceptional opening with

7-10pm Gallery's night with Fiac

2-6pm Exceptional opening with LE PARI(S)

Viewing rooms with Artsy


For her 2nd solo show, Raphaëlle Peria proposes a set of images around coral bleaching: an alteration of coral pigmentation created by thermal stress. Once the photograph is scratched, they are nothing more than shapes that seem to float out of their devastated natural environment. 

Interview between Gaël Charbau and the artist - Summer 2020 
Gaël Charbau: The series of works that you present at the Galerie Papillon represents a new stage in your practice, what was its starting point? 
Raphaëlle Peria: At the beginning of the year, I had planned to go to Tahiti to visit an association that I’m connected with, which tries to save coral by letting people sponsor them. They protect and grow the corals using incubators, then reintroduce them into their natural environment. I was supposed to take photos there, which is still the basis of my work, and rework them as I usually do. Then the lockdown upset my plans...! So I decided to tour aquariums to build an image bank of these corals, which I photographed in these "fictitious" environments. The aquariums turned out to be very interesting as a starting point, because they are composed spaces, staged, like dioramas, with a very strong presence of light that emphasises the colors. 
GC: It is in fact the first sensation you feel, this new presence of color in your work ... 
RP: I really wanted that ! Coral offers a wide variety of textures and materials. My technique of scraping away at the photographic image always brings out the whiteness of the paper. In this new series, I wanted for the first time to directly introduce color, and therefore painting. 
GC: There are two series, one where the paint was applied as a flat, solid color which creates "marks" on the image, and the other where you painted plastic bags on black and white photographs. Can you explain your process to me? 
RP: For the plastic bag images, it was the first time that I didn’t use my own photographs. I collected copyright free underwater views from the Internet. Then I put together a collection of plastic bag photos : I isolated them and edited them into the backgrounds. Then I painted them, directly on the photo. For the black and white images, I sometimes hollowed out the surface before painting it. I worked with Flashe paint, which is halfway between gouache and acrylic and works perfectly with the surface of photo prints. 
GC: By painting in a flat, solid color, it makes the image almost completely abstract and deprives it of its depth, a bit like in the "tiered" perspective which is found in the primitives and in various civilizations... 
RP: Yes, we also have this feeling of collage in large enough formats. And since I always work with small tools, we certainly perceive this manipulated texture of the image less than before. It is easier to get lost in the work which becomes a real landscape to explore, a space. 
GC: But the paradox is that now these plastic bags become very aesthetic... 
RP: I like to play on this ambiguity, I made sure to create these allusive marks so that we couldn’t immediately see that these are plastic bags. The title of the exhibition, Fluo Bleaching, comes from the term "coral bleaching" which is the term used to talk about the bleaching of coral, which dies mostly because of our environmental impact. This is also why I called the series Les voleurs de couleurs/The Color Thieves, it's a bit as if they came to steal all the color from the corals ... 
GC: How long has this ecological engagement been in your work? 
RP: I think it dates back to my first exhibition at the Papillon Gallery, when I chose the place where I took the photos. I began to identify ecosystems that I wanted to address. It started with the ruins of Ephesus and Angkor, places where we see the duality between man and nature, and how the latter takes back its rights. Then, I moved on to sites where climate change or the overexploitation of resources on an ecosystem are visible. The last series that I created is about the swamps in northern France (Narcissus in Flores) where I was able to do research on extinct plants. Another series (Aridatis and Inundatio) is dedicated to a spa town located next to a lake in Argentina where I went last year. Some corrupt contractors built a dike there but embezzled part of the money. The construction could not hold up against a huge flood that devastated the city and plunged it under water for 14 years. A few years ago, the water began to recede and I photographed the first plants that emerged from these ruins which we are gradually discovering. I try to give meaning to my voyages, and my work now reflects this awareness. 
GC: Your images are nevertheless quite ambiguous, because even if in this new series the painting is an "artificial" or exogenous element, it becomes fascinating, creating a visual surprise which greatly enriches the photographed image. 
RP: It's true, but these "marks" also play in contrast with the sickly whiteness of the coral. The titles of the works are also the Latin names of the corals present in the image, like a scientific survey. Coral is dying in particular due to the warming of the water. It is normally inhabited by polyps, which migrate or die at a certain temperature, which is why the coral loses all of its color. So I added "painting" for the first time to underline the vital richness of what is photographed. 

Graduated from the École européenne supérieure d'Art de Bretagne in 2014, Raphaëlle Peria (1989) is selected for the Révélations Emerige grant in 2015 and participates in the exhibition Empiristes curated by Gaël Charbau. In 2017, she is laureate of the 8th edition of the Science-Po Prize for Contemporary Art, Galerie Papillon presents her first solo show and exhibits her work at APPROCHE fair (Paris) at the invitation of Léa Chauvel-Lévy. After being presented in focus for Drawing Now Art Fair 2019, Raphaëlle Peria benefits from the 1st carte blanche given to an artist by the Drawing Hotel. She has also recently completed several residencies and participated in various group shows mainly in Brittany. Fluo Bleaching is her 2nd solo show at the gallery.