Hours 12:00 – 19:00
Closed Tuesday and Wednesday
The Mass is pleased to present Seb Janiak’s first solo exhibition in Japan.
In a photographic career spanning over 30 years, Seb Janiak has explored a remarkably diverse range of areas. From his matte paintings with their revolutionary new techniques and unique perspectives, Janiak has successfully preserved a sense of cohesion while covering the full range of possibilities offered by photography. Janiak started out as a young freelance graphic designer without specific aspirations to be an artist, who wanted above all to give free rein to his curiosity and to experiment with a piece of equipment which he discovered by chance and which opened up the possibility of creating stunning images.
In 1987, images could be created and digitally enhanced using Quantel Paintbox. Janiak was one of the very first people to extend its use beyond the TV and film applications for which it was originally designed in order to produce photographic images for exhibition. In these photographs, scenes of unbridled fantasy were reconstructed with a hitherto unprecedented degree of realism. This marked the dawn of a new photographic esthetic. A variety of different shots taken all over the world could be assembled digitally into large- format images conjuring up a sci-fi world suffused with the staggering transparency of photography. This new style of image would become the staple fare of the next two decades, but Janiak’s achievement lay in being the first to create them.
Seb Janiak is a pioneer, spurred on by a restless desire to observe the world, challenge it and apply his artistic skills to reshaping it. He has an unquenchable thirst for everything that supplements our understanding of reality, opens up new perspectives and creates meaning. Whether he is dealing with institutionalized phenomena (religion, science, and astrophysics in particular) or niche areas (esotericism, ufology) his imagination draws on humanity in all its boundless diversity, transcending time and place. An overview of his work is instructive in this respect.
The success of his early digital photos was followed by a meteoric rise in the world of advertising in 1995. He made a seamless transition from still images to video and the most influential musicians quickly approached him to direct their music videos, including Daft Punk, Janet Jackson, and Robbie Williams.
In 2005, after ten years of frenetic activity, major health problems forced Janiak to make radical lifestyle changes. At the height of his artistic powers, he resumed his experiments with photography, free from the constraints of commissioned work. Drawing inspiration for his work from a variety of sources over the years such as traditional oriental texts including the Tibetan Book of the Dead or the history of Western art, Janiak created strikingly powerful ensembles in which human figures were replaced by nature and ideas.
Since 2009, Janiak has set new parameters on this research by restricting himself to the techniques of analog photography, namely double exposure, superimposition and photomontage.
—Paul Frèches, former gallerist and curator, currently cultural attaché at the Consulate general of France in Shanghai.
Mimesis (2012- 2014)
Mimicry/Mimesis is an adaptive imitation strategy involving various morphological, physiological, ecological and ethological aspects. Mimesis is a complex co-evolutionary mechanism involving three species: the model, the imitator and the dupe.
Eat or be eaten! This fundamental law of nature has seen animals develop a diverse range of survival techniques during the course of their evolution, one of which is mimesis.
For specialists, the term mimicry has a narrow definition that is limited to a resemblance of two zoologically distant organisms, which sees one (the mimic) imitate the other (the model). However, the term can also cover all types of camouflage used by species to ensure concealment from predators and avoid being seen by humans too.
Homochromy, homotypy, camouflage and mimicry in the strict sense of the term are the four fundamental mechanisms used by organisms for concealment. Mimicry is a strategy involving various morphological, physiological, ecological and ethological aspects.
When under attack, the victim reacts by using various adaptations, particularly venom, foul smells, escape or concealment. A fragile balance can be found in this struggle for life and concealment or camouflage are only one of the means by which animals ensure survival. When talking about camouflage or mimicry in relation to animals, it should be understood that animals do not make a conscious effort or use rationale like humans can. It is a matter of adaptation, the reasons for which are not known.
Technical Note: There are no changes made to the colors, no retouching or special effects applied to the image in post-production. As of 2009, Janiak has set new parameters on this research by restricting himself to the techniques of analog photography used since 1850, namely double exposure, superimposition and photomontage inspired by pioneers of photography such as Henry Peach Robinson, Édouard Baldus and Gustave Le Gray.
© Seb Janiak, Mimesis, Aphyllae Maleakht, 2014