Born,  Bruges,  1956
lives and works in Bruges, Belgium

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What started some years ago as a digital revisiting of negatives of over 25 years old, resulted in a new and continuing series of photographs documenting the search for and the questioning of human interventions in nature.

Can such interventions gain a timeless character and become part of their surroundings or do they inevitably remain as scars?

The intentional use of a very limited analog camera expresses itself in images that possess an inherent and appropriate timeless quality.


Els Wuyts - 2019
exhibition 'Frozen in Time' - Kasteelstraat 1  Pavilion Contemporary Art  Watou 

Jean Godecharle’s (°1956) photographic work is both visible in the lush greenery of the garden and in the bright interior space. As an artist, he has to some extent abandoned the accepted norms of photography : he consciously suppresses the urge to produce a detailed photograph. The photographs have been given both manual and analogue time to be developed and viewed. His images have been traditionally crafted together with new technological know-how, whereby a landscape is centred in the middle of the picture and accentuated by blurred edges calling for the necessary distance. These are fragments of dream images, in which natural elements evoke movement while the incidence of light creates depth.

Hans Eneman - 2018

Jean Godecharle’s photos are of landscapes caught in soft tones of grey that cover the entire frame. We see earth, rubble and stone dust overgrown with woods, trees and shrubs. Human or animal presence, if any, is only suggested by a decrepit wall or a winding path through fields. A foggy, subdued light spreads an elegant drama over the scenes, creating a nostalgic Cotswolds atmosphere. We are facing painstaking images, beautifully fragile, saturated with the world’s visual wealth. Often it looks as though pristine wisps of nature, islands of dense and cosy greenery have been enlarged into a forest that reaches towards the sublime, the unimaginable, the eternal, or into a void … almost Heideggerian in scope.

This photographic endeavor is dreamy and detached at the same time. That very contradiction is what makes Godecharle’s photos so intriguing : we are walking on a soft layer of moss, aware of the rocks underneath. Paraphrasing J.D. Salinger, we might refer to spiritual forces that are vainly trying to subvert objective reality. That is due to the photographer, who masterly combines the analogue and the digital, searching beyond poetry for a representation that reveals the connection with the hard subsoil. In other words, he tries to reduce the romanticism of the original image in order to objectify it anew. Obviously he fails, but his manipulation does inject the image with an uneasy stillness. It is this oppressive reciprocity between poetry and reality which makes Godecharle’s images seductive and ominous at the same time. He seems to reach towards the depiction of some sort of limbo, a world forgetful of all that it has been through and yet cannot keep revolving as though nothing has happened. In the photos we do not actually perceive what is going on but we do sense it.

Jean Godecharle helps us to figure out each image, to penetrate beneath the surface of its appearance. The strong pictorial and sculptural character of his work forces us beyond its romantic loveliness, deeper into the image, which inevitably leads to reflection. This is photography which – to quote Lyotard – ‘hones our sense of the unpresentable.’