« What am I looking at? » is a question often asked when being confronted with Christophe Charons images.

As a fervent Observer he captures city views, trash, found pictures and objects on film composing a visual language where images becomes platforms for a meditation on the act of seeing closer to a pictorial tradition than the fashionable snapshot. Behind, at first sight, a random sequence of photographs, he carefully builds up an archive of images giving some part of the information and leaving out the rest open for interpretation, a subjective reflection of the world articulated around various point of views leading the viewer on a trip trough a variety of subjects going from the common to the sublime.

As an artist Christophe Charon succeeds in capturing the delicate moment where a static image transcends reality to become a window on another world, so far and meanwhile very familiar.

S.H. Vienna, Summer 2010



Q.Tell me something about yourself? A./ I was born 50 years ago in the Belgian country and can honestly say that I did not understand the language around me. I felt very isolated, I was bored!

Q.Was it that bad? A./ YES! … but fortunately my parents occasionally bought some magazines.

Q.What kind of magazines? A./ Different kinds, but one of them appealed to me in particular. The magazine was called l‘Oeil, a french cultural magazine with beautiful covers. Aside from the cover I was very intrigued by their unusual mix of different topics. One chapter would be about African artefacts, the next one about Mondrian… Later I started cutting out some of the pictures to re-order them in different ways and tell new stories. I think this particular magazine (and its layout) affected my way of looking at things until today.

Q.You studied fashion design… Why didn’t you choose another direction? A./ Well, this is a bit of a coincidence – I think that aside from looking at images, I was not really thinking very much and when a friend of mine went for the entrance exam at the Antwerp Academy, I went with her and got accepted. I also have to admit that I found the (re)presentation of fashion in the 80‘s very attractive… fashion looked like a more accessible way to express things than art, for example. It took me a long time to discover that I find the (re)presentation of something far more interesting that the thing itself… somehow I got caught in the fashion game… I became very interested in the technical and sociological sides of fashion and also in the way fashion is being (re)presented in advertisement and images.

Q.Why is advertisement so important to you? A./ Because it is trying to communicate something via a two-dimensional image. The relationship between image and reality is something I am very curious about, especially since this line is becoming more and more blurry.

Q.Couldn‘t you continue exploring that relationship trough fashion design? A./Somehow, no. Even if I agree that fashion is a lot about communicating via an image, it is fundamentally about making a product fit into a very narrow frame. I am fascinated by how things are made, but I find the whole process of seasonal fashion production, showing and designing very limiting. I have been looking at the relationship between object and (re)presentation in other fields for a long time now and it is something I want to continue exploring – fashion has been a very good training field for me in order to do this. I think i am aware of the pitfalls.

Q.How would you explore that in the field of art for instance? A./I begin with a very simple observation… I experienced most of the art works I know through images… I don’t usually know their location, size or even the artist who made them, but somehow something about their initial intention is transported through the image…

Q.Would you call this IMAGE-POWER? A./ I would rather go for SYMBOL POWER … I am interested in images as symbols and I think symbols have a lot of power, indeed. Images need to be activated by a certain context to become symbols – I find this dynamic relationship worth investigating because there is something magical about it…

Q.What have you been doing for the past ten years? A./ I have been thinking a lot and I have been trying to process the changing world that surrounds us. I have literally been trying to find something to do with the amount of images I have been collecting throughout in the past. To the opposite of when i was growing up we now live in an age of instant digital availability of all possible images. 24/7. I could say I have been sorting things out!

Q.What is the relationship of your collected images and the images you actually make? A./ It depends… sometimes I actually re-use them as they are and sometimes I use them as the basis to then create new images. I have a very specific way of working.

Q.Could you explain your process? A./ I can try… first of all i look at images all the time and everywhere… In the past it was analog, now it is digital. I then file them (unsorted) in a folder on my phone. I flip trough this folder very regularly in order to find a link between some of the images. As soon as I find a link, I start working on some kind of composition around a specific topic. Only then do I commence making my own interpretation of the images i collect/select.

Q. Why didn’t you start showing the results of your research earlier? A./ I wasn’t ready… sometimes I can be extremely slow to figure things out .. I don’t find it necessary to create things for the sake of creating them… I really don’t need to produce more images, especially on a wall. I was dealing with the topic of “what to photograph“ for a very long time… The idea of the multi-picture only recently occurred to me… I like the association of different images/ frames inside one picture because it turns the whole final image into some kind of a game. Like a rebus.

Q. A serious game? A./ Yes. Not just polished, prepackaged entertainment, but something that makes you think while and because you are looking at images simultaneously. At least that is my intention. It’s not so much about the hanging image, or what I mean by it. It is about the viewers’ navigation through the images and about how they make their own interpretations/associations. For me it is very important to share the sensations I feel when i am looking at images. It is not always rational…

Q.Going back to the idea of „topic“, what is the topic of the work you are sending? A./ I wanted to work around something „classical“ – the idea of “composition“ instantly occurred to me (subject/content – shape – colour – (material)), the subjects/objects become quite enigmatic because they refuse to reveal their true identity, a Breughel painting is a page out of a children’s colouring book I stole at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, a passe-partout becomes some abstract shape framing nothing, gloves seems to be unwearable even if they are real…

Q.Are you nostalgic? A./ I am afraid I don’t believe in time. I believe emotions are timeless.