Translated by Simon Pleasance, 2015
Excerpt from the notice for the Institute of Contemporary Art, Villeurbanne/Rhône-Alpes, October 2012
Pierre-Olivier Arnaud graduated from the Saint-Etienne School of Fine Arts in 1996, and has exhibited in many venues in France and Europe, such as Le Magasin in Grenoble, Le Printemps de Septembre, in Toulouse, the CAP in Saint-Fons, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Villeurbanne, the MAMCO in Geneva, and the Kunstakademie in Stuttgart...
Although his work is predominantly photographic, he describes himself rather as an artist who reflects through the medium of photography. His works indefatigably question the nature of the image, its essence and its production as well as the way it is disseminated and consumed. By extending Walter Benjamin's thinking about the work's loss of aura caused by its technical reproducibility, the artist produces photographs which are counter to any spectacular effect, images which he subjects as much to many different kinds of manipulation (de-saturation, reframing, blurring effects, negative shift) as to the spectre of their own disappearance.
Since his early days, P-O Arnaud has been working with one and the same colour, grey. He thus invariably passes the images he creates and samples (advertisements, newspapers, etc.) through what he defines as “an optical, undifferentiated grey”, in an operation which plays an active part in his “de-sublimation” endeavour, producing in return a form of ghost-like uncanniness. His early photographs focus on details (an edge, an angle, a corner) where the subject is never clearly identifiable, but forms gradually start to come to the surface. [...]
Pierre-Olivier Arnaud is also a walker who, during his random wanderings, photographs generic and abandoned urban spaces, taking care to get rid of any sign making it possible to locate them, be it spatial or chronological.
By seeing late modernism as a “failed promise”, 1 he criss-crosses the countries in the former Soviet bloc in search of their manifestations as much as those of hotels bearing the same name (Hôtel 2000, 2006 and Projet Cosmos, 2009).
Whether they are simply glued to the wall or piled up on the floor, his “quality-less” images, printed on perishable surfaces, are invariably threatened by entropy. “
1 La partie amère de ces délices, by Jill Gasparina in Editions ADERA, 2009