Pierre Amrouche

Pierre Amrouche was born in Paris in 1948 and went on to become a poet as well as photographer. He developed a fascination with Africa at a young age while travelling from his native Marseilles to the Central African Republic where his mother worked as a teacher. Later Amrouche made Africa his home. Juste au Corps is his seminal piece of work created over a seven year period from 2005-2012 in Lomé, Togo in western Africa.    

Juste au Corps began as a series for the French art magazine, Area. The editor of Area asked Amrouche “Do you believe in the idea of Venus, of the original woman?” Amrouche's response was “Yes, to me the first woman exists. She is the African women. To me she is primeval woman”. When Amrouche began the project, the local women he asked to pose for him were either ashamed of their own nakedness or they were wary of Amrouche’s intentions. Finally on the eve of his departure back to France he met an old friend who agreed to be the first model in the series. Having now had an example of the type of work he wanted to create as well as a model that was happy to recommend friends for the project, Amrouche found it much easier to gather models to pose for him.

Amrouche’s work avoids the customary idea of the nude. Dimly lit, the woman’s body surfaces from the darkness baring the marks of the voyage to existence. Amrouche has created a body of work which is filled with reverence for the female form but does not place the woman on a pedestal. Instead he captures an appreciation of a woman exactly as she is, nothing more and nothing less.

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ABOUT ARTIST

Pierre Amrouche

2011
Juste au Corps, Fine Art Studio, Brussels, Belgium

2010
Jours tranquilles au Benin, Galerie Bernard Dulon, Paris, France

2009
Le Jaune de Naples. Chateau de l'Oeuf, Naples, Italy

2007
Tribale Globale. Pavillon de la Marginalite, Venice, Italy
Tribale Globale. Musee du Priamar, Savona, Italy
Afrique Terre ancestral. Musee National d'Islande, Reykjavik, Iceland
Desordes d'Eros. African Muse Gallery, Paris, France

2006
Scenes primitives. Galerie La Reserve d'Area, Paris, France

2005
Venus. Galerie La Reserve d'Area, Paris, France
Venus. Musee de Perigueux, Periguex, France

1998
Fetiches et Fetichismes. Passage de Retz, Paris, France

1991
Art Moba du Togo. Galeries ABK, Paris, France

Pierre Amrouche biography

When in African Amrouche spends most of his time in Benin where the influence of the Yoruba tribe is quite strong. Benin is the background for many of Amrouche's works including Juste au Corps.

As with many great works the birth of this series was by no means an easy one. The brief for the work was set by the French publication Area who wanted to create a story of images based around the idea of Venus. The editor of Area asked Amrouche "Do you believe in the idea of Venus, of the original woman?" Amrouche reaction was "Yes, to me the first woman exists. She is the African women. To me she is primeval woman". After searching for suitable models Amrouche realised this was not going to be an easy endeavour. The local women he asked where either ashamed of their own nakedness or they were wary of Amrouche's intentions. Finally on the eve of his departure he bumped into a old friend he had known for years who agreed to be the first model in the series.

Amrouche describes the first session as being intense: the day hot, sweat poured from every pore Amrouche was fixed into an intense focus. When Amrouche returned to France and developed the works he realised it had all been worth it. Having now had an example of the work he wanted to create as well a model that was happy to recommend friends for the project Amrouche found it much easier to gather models to pose for him. Starting in 2005 over the next 5 years Amrouche took over 100 photos as part of the Juste au Corps series.

The nude is one of the most reformulated subjects in art; it is for many artists a difficult subject to approach. This was something that played on Amrouche's mind, how can one make something original or engaging when there is already such a fine lineage of examples? Amrouche looked to the works by the artist Jean Dubuffet for his starting point.

Dubuffet's squat, simplified nudes were reminiscent for Amrouche of the African tribal figures carved centuries before. Historically in western art the female nude has been a muse, a reflection of the artists own feelings about the model. The depiction of the model as sexual, coy or volatile is controlled by the artist. The works are their interpretation of the women and by proxy a reflection of their own experience with women. However Amrouche's work manoeuvres around this, obviously the lack of a head in his images has a direct effect on the way the viewer engages with the work. These images feel less like nudes and instead create the effect of statues, a portrayal of something that has existed for much longer than the span of each models life. Dimly lit they surface from the darkness, each individual's skin baring the marks of the voyage of their existence. There is electricity in the work discharged from the models rather than through the manipulation of the photographer. Amrouche has created a body of work which is filled with reverence for the female form but does not place her on a pedal stool. Amrouche does not try to create a dream he is uninterested in the ideal the images he has captured are an appreciation of woman exactly as she is, nothing more and nothing less.

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